Sunny and 75 here in Orlando

Sunny and 75 here in Orlando

A few thoughts as we head toward tipoff between the Gophers and DePaul (ESPN2).

*DePaul represents an upgrade in the Gophers' early schedule, but not by much. The Blue Demons might be in the Big East, but they were picked to finish 16th of 16 teams by conference coaches in the preseason. They were 7-24 last season, though they're 2-0 so far this year. One thing to watch is DePaul does seem to be getting good guard play and might test the Gophers' youngsters in that area. They also launch a lot of threes (51 in two games, making 22 of them).

*Ralph Sampson III is starting for the Gophers. He didn't do contact drills in practice Wednesday and didn't play Monday against Mount St. Mary's, but apparently he has healed enough from a rolled ankle to give it a go today. We'll see how much he has to offer.

*Indiana State upended Texas Tech in the tournament opener. Minnesota will face Indiana State at 11 a.m. (central) on Friday if the Gophers win today; otherwise, it's a 1:30 p.m. game against Texas Tech if they lose. The early game would be on ESPN; the later game would be on ESPNU.

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