This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

  Follow Rayno on Twitter @AmeliaRayno

A national glance at the Gophers' non-conference schedule

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball Updated: October 5, 2012 - 11:48 AM

It’s a long off-season for college basketball, but things are finally starting to get shaking. Official practice, after all, begins just a week from today, and we all will finally start to get a glimpse of this team that we hear might-possibly-could-maybe-be-kind-of-a-little-bit-good, you know, sometimes. That’s step one of the season.

Step two will be the non-conference schedule. It’s been highly hyped that this year’s slate is much more substantive than last season, when the Gophers’ cruised to 12-1 right before getting trampled in Big Ten play. But just how solid is the 2012-13 version? We’ll get into all this deeper as it come up, but to get a good overarching, big-picture analysis, I turned to Yahoo national college basketball blogger Jeff Eisenberg for his insight.
 
“It’s really not a bad schedule, actually,” Eisenberg said, noting the Gophers will be challenged early and throughout and will develop their burgeoning national clout if they escape relatively unscathed.
Some of what Eisenberg said:
 
  • The Gophers’ tournament is clearly head-and-shoulder above the one they participated in last season (Old Spice, in Orlando) and Eisenberg agrees with the popular opinion that it's the cream of the crop. “I think the Battle 4 Atlantis is probably the best preseason tournament out there,” he said. “So even if they lose to Duke I think they’re getting two quality games in the consolation bracket. So regardless of how it happens, I think coming out of that tournament 2-1 would be a real achievement for that team, similar to a couple years ago when they beat UNC and West Virginia in a preseason tournament (in Puerto Rico). I think any combination of two wins would be a great thing for them there.”
  • Other than the tournament, Eisenberg sees several tough matches ahead, including:
*  South Dakota State (which is “easily the best team in the Summit League this year,” he said, and shouldn’t be counted on, even at home. “It will be really interesting with [Nate] Wolters again. I was actually surprised last year that [the Gophers] handled them [the Jackrabbits] so easily”) 
*  at Florida State (“FSU is going to be a top 4 ACC team probably this year and that is a difficult game on the road”)
*  Richmond (who has improved over the last year and “is not a gimme”)
*  at USC (“They’ll be vastly improved this year compared to where they were a year ago” with the return of a now-healthy Jio Fontan and a cache of eligible transfers)
Eisenberg is quick to point out that despite the schedules’ strength, Minnesota should stand up to it – if the Gophers are everything we all currently (even nationally!) think they are.
 
“I would think if Minnesota is a top 25 team, that’s the type of game that they need to win,” he said. “Those are games you want to win.”
 
So what do the Gophers need to do with the schedule given to them? Can they take three losses and still be looked upon favorably?
 
“I would say three losses is kind of like par on a golf hole,” Eisenberg said “I think that would be acceptable, I don’t think that would be anything to get over-excited or overly disappointed about. I think if they were able to come out of the Battle 4 Atlantis with one loss and then maybe lose one other game in that non-conference slate, I think that would be a tremendous success, with some of the challenges in that slate that they have.
 
“If they come out of it with two losses, I think they would have a great shot to be in the top 25 heading into the Big Ten, but at the same time, we’ve seen them have strong non-conference performances each of the last two years and then things have just sort of fallen apart in Big Ten play. So you take it for what it’s worth, so to speak.”
 
Ah yes, we remember that.

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Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
FIU 2 FINAL
Miami 7
Toronto 114 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Golden State 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
Phoenix 98 FINAL
Miami 115
LA Clippers 110 FINAL
Minnesota 105
New Orleans 93 FINAL
Dallas 102
Nashville 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Carolina 2 FINAL
Chicago 5
Montreal 0 FINAL
San Jose 4
Virginia 59 FINAL
Syracuse 47
Baylor 59 FINAL
Texas 61
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
Northwestern St 92
Central Arkansas 49 FINAL
Sam Houston St 76
Norfolk State 59 FINAL
Howard 61
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 75 FINAL
Delaware State 85
Lamar 69 FINAL
McNeese State 70
Nicholls 89 FINAL
New Orleans 79
Incarnate Word 62 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 83
NC Central 62 FINAL
Savannah State 49
Texas Southern 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 75
Prairie View 67 FINAL
Alabama State 65
Oklahoma 70 FINAL
Iowa State 77
Grambling St 62 FINAL
Miss Valley St 66
Boston College 66 FINAL
Virginia Tech 59
Jackson State 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 64
Bethune-Cookman 55 FINAL
NC A&T 58
Hampton 78 FINAL
Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 78 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 74
Grambling 56 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Tulsa 71 FINAL
Cincinnati 58
(1) Connecticut 88 FINAL
South Florida 65
UCF 57 FINAL
East Carolina 67
Central Conn St 53 FINAL
Bryant 55
Wagner 66 FINAL
Robert Morris 60
Sacred Heart 75 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 84
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
Mount St Marys 87 FINAL
St Francis-PA 90
Temple 56 FINAL
Houston 45
Texas Tech 65 FINAL
(6) Baylor 75
Iowa State 64 FINAL
Kansas 68
SMU 60 FINAL
Memphis 53
Oklahoma 66 FINAL
Oklahoma St 56

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