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.

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Gophers pregame: the first massive test for Minnesota

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: November 25, 2013 - 1:08 PM

If Richmond was the Gophers’ first big test, today against No. 9 Syracuse represents the first MASSIVE test.

In the wise words of Elliott Eliason: “It’s a little more than a test, man, that’s a great team, year-in and year-out. It’s always fun to measure yourself against someone like that. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

So Eliason has already mastered island-speak and the Gophers are keeping it real.

Luckily for the big man, he will have a little more help in the frontcourt than he did on Thursday vs. Wofford. Expect power forward Joey King to play after practicing the last two days. There is still some pain associated with the injury, but as Pitino has pointed out, King is one of the toughest players on the team.

Will we know everything about Minnesota afterward? No, certainly not. But the game will provide a good measuring stick against one of the nation’s best. If it’s a blowout, well, lots of work to be done before January rolls around. If they keep it close or (gasp) win, well, there’s still lots of work to be done before January rolls around. But of course, it would be a major accomplishment.

The Gophers have done a pretty good job of remaining steady through the early non-conference slate (with the minor exception of the Coastal Carolina game), a trait that would serve them well here, where they will be playing three games in three days no matter what.

Some notes on Syracuse:

  • Kenpom.com predicts that the Gophers will win a close one, 67-66. Wha? Check it out for yourself.
  • CJ Fair roots the highly talented, highly athletic Orange frontcourt and will represent by far the toughest competitor that the Gophers have seen this season. The ACC preseason player of the year (CQ) could be in the NBA right now, but instead, chose to forego the draft and spend another season torturing teams like the Gophers. Through four games, the versatile 6-8 forward with a good mid-range shot is averaging 18 points and 5.5 rebounds a game and will be trouble for Minnesota’s dreams of scoring in the post.
  • The Orange’s frontcourt depth situation couldn’t be more different from the Gophers’. Syracuse has three centers with different skills to throw out at any time. There’s Rakeem Christmas, maybe the best all-around, Baye Mossa Keita, the most reliable on defense and DaJuan Coleman, considered the best offensive center. That means plenty of challenges for Eliason and King when the Gophers are forced to plug him into that spot.
  • Syracuse turns teams over at a frightening rate. Nabbing the ball in 26.8 percent of opponents’ possessions, the Orange is the sixth best in the nation in that aspect of its defense. Correspondingly, Syracuse has the best steal percentage in the country.
  • Watch out for the 2-3 zone. It shouldn’t give the Gophers the same nightmares it would have a year ago, because Minnesota has already looked much better when facing zone defenses (even a 1-3-1 briefly in the Wofford game!) Syracuse executes theirs very well, and has also been very good at defending the three. But the Gophers have got to either break through the 2-3 or get hot from the outside if they’re to challenge the Orange.
  • Talented as they are, Syracuse isn’t air-tight, nearly losing to St. Francis last week, but recovering for a 56-50 win. Fair had an off-game in that one, scoring seven points and grabbing six rebounds. Containing him is a big task, but if the Gophers could achieve similar results by doing so, it’s probably on their agenda.
  • Minnesota has been in the Aloha State since Friday evening. “I think the biggest thing we’ve got to do as you get out there --here come all the distractions. It’s unbelievable when you get there. It’s just a challenge. You’ve got to fight more mentally some issues than physically. And you’ve also got three games in three days regardless of what happens. So you’ve got to be smart in the way that you handle shootarounds, the way that you handle film.

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
UAB 47 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 71 FINAL
Mercer 77
San Jose St 56 FINAL
Washington 78
Washington St 43 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 71
Baylor 71 FINAL
Memphis 47
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
South Florida 83
Princeton 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 55
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53

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