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

Gophers pregame: Minnesota faces biggest test of the year at Michigan State

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball, Gophers coaches, Gophers players Updated: January 11, 2014 - 11:00 AM

Read my story on DeAndre Mathieu's challenges against MSU point guard Keith Appling here.

Check out this week's national notebook, on Kansas' early struggles, plus other notes from around college basketball and the latest Big Ten power poll.

Today's game at Michigan State tips at 1:15 and will be broadcast on BTN and 1500-a.m.

There is a reason Gophers coach Richard Pitino doesn't look ahead on the Big Ten schedule, or want his players to -- it's terrifying.

When asked about the next four games the Gophers have on deck, forward Oto Osenieks said he was only aware of the schedule through today's game at Michigan State, and Thursday's home matchup against Ohio State.

Did he want to know the other to?

"I'd prefer not to," Osenieks said. 

Hey, that's the way the Gophers are going to need to approach the rest of this season if they want to keep from getting overwhelmed. As it is, they've had plenty to occupy them the last two days after a slender victory at Penn State preceded the very quick turnaround before today's game at Michigan State. And, psst, this contest just so happens to be Minnesota's greatest test of the year -- playing against the country's No. 5 team in a true road environment. 

Five things to look for today at Breslin Center:

1. The atmosphere at Breslin: It will be loud, it will be electric, it will be nothing like Penn State. And how will the Gophers deal with that? They've only played in one true road game all season -- at Richmond -- and Michigan State and its infamous "Izzone" is quite a different animal indeed. Yesterday, coach Richard Pitino pointed out that the Gophers have got to be like North Carolina, a team that seemed wholly unfazed by the raucous environment earlier this year -- and coincidentally, the only team that has beaten the Spartans. The Tarheels are a very good team, though. Does Pitino's scrappy bunch have the poise?

2. Minnesota's interior: There is a chance the Gophers could receive another frontcourt gift today, much like the one they had (and failed to take advantage of) against Michigan in the opener with Mitch McGary out. Now, Adreian Payne is questionable, according to multiple local outlets, and that would be a big loss for the Spartans. Regardless of whether the MSU big man plays, Elliott Eliason must continue his efficiency in the post defensively, and make plays on offense. The Gophers frontcourt has been a big spark in the last few games and has allowed for the backcourt to go through some head-scratching inconsistency. But Eliason, along with Mo Walker, will have their work cut out for them today.

3. Execution: Yesterday, Pitino said the team wanted to go out and "try to play as perfect a game as possible." Certainly, every coach looks to that goal in every game -- but on Saturday it might be necessary if the Gophers want a chance at upsetting Sparty. Minnesota must do all the little things well, handle the ball better than they have in the conference slate so far, get to the line, make their free throws and gang rebound. They will need to be sharp in just about every facet to compete with Michigan State.

4. Appling vs. Mathieu: The Gophers point guard had a huge second half at Penn State, following perhaps his worst half of the year. When Mathieu is clicking, the team usually is too -- not many people saw this coming, but through the early season, he has emerged as a definite leader of the team. Now, the Gophers need to be able to rely on him against the plethora of extremely talented floor generals they will face in this league. Appling, always a high-scoring guard, has been on a tear this year, and will test Mathieu's defensive ability, especially if the Gophers press. Can the 5-9 Mathieu hang?

5. Austin Hollins: The senior has always played very smart, and been extremely reliable defensively. Now, Hollins needs to find a new offensive consistency in his final year as a Gopher. The lanky guard scored 18 points and added nine rebounds against Purdue, but has averaged just three points and 3.5 rebounds in the other two league games. That won't do -- Hollins is one of Minnesota's dynamic scoring options, and when he's playing well, it lifts the team. His return to dominance will be greatly needed at Breslin today.


Tampa Bay - WP: J. McGee 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Morrow 5
Cleveland - LP: B. Shaw 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 6
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: E. Volquez 7
Miami - WP: A. DeSclafani 5 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Papelbon 4
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Garza 9
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 8 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 4
Minnesota - WP: T. May 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 4
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 4
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 10
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 6 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 1
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 6 FINAL
Arizona - WP: Z. Spruill 8
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 4 FINAL
Seattle - LP: C. Young 0
NY Yankees 1 Top 9th Inning
Baltimore 1
Miami 10 FINAL
Buffalo 29
Jacksonville 10 FINAL
Washington 41
Dallas 26 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Arizona 25 FINAL
NY Giants 14
New England 30 FINAL
Minnesota 7
New Orleans 24 FINAL
Cleveland 26
Atlanta 10 FINAL
Cincinnati 24
Detroit 7 FINAL
Carolina 24
St. Louis 19 FINAL
Tampa Bay 17
Seattle 21 FINAL
San Diego 30
NY Jets 24 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Kansas City 17 FINAL
Denver 24
Houston 30 FINAL
Oakland 14
Chicago 7 3rd Qtr 3:53
San Francisco 20
Philadelphia 9/15/14 7:30 PM
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Boise State 38 FINAL
Connecticut 21
Indiana 42 FINAL
Bowling Green 45
Ga Southern 38 FINAL
Georgia Tech 42
Syracuse 40 FINAL
Central Mich 3
(18) Missouri 38
Massachusetts 31 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
Ohio U 14 FINAL
Marshall 44
West Virginia 40 FINAL
Maryland 37
Kent State 0 FINAL
(23) Ohio State 66
Pittsburgh 42 FINAL
FIU 25
East Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia Tech 21
Louisville 21 FINAL
Virginia 23
Wyoming 14 FINAL
(2) Oregon 48
Air Force 48 FINAL
Georgia State 38
(13) Georgia 35 FINAL
(14) So Carolina 38
Arkansas 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 28
Iowa State 20 FINAL
Iowa 17
Miami-Ohio 10 FINAL
Michigan 34
Kansas 3 FINAL
Duke 41
NC State 49 FINAL
So Florida 17
Arkansas State 20 FINAL
Miami-Florida 41
Miss State 35 FINAL
South Alabama 3
Louisiana 15 FINAL
(10) Ole Miss 56
Minnesota 7 FINAL
TCU 30
Illinois 19 FINAL
Washington 44
Army 0 FINAL
(16) Stanford 35
Western Mich 45 FINAL
Idaho 33
Eastern Mich 3 FINAL
Old Dominion 17
Southern Miss 12 FINAL
(3) Alabama 52
Northern Ill 48 FINAL
Tulsa 21 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 50
(8) LSU 31
Wake Forest 24 FINAL
Utah State 36
Western Ky 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 50
TX-San Antonio 13 FINAL
(25) Oklahoma State 43
Purdue 14 FINAL
(9) Notre Dame 30
Kentucky 30 FINAL
Florida 36
New Mexico St 24 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 42
Tennessee 10 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 34
(17) USC 31 FINAL
Boston College 37
Navy 35 FINAL
Texas State 21
(12) UCLA 20 FINAL
Texas 17
Penn State 13 FINAL
Rutgers 10
Rice 10 FINAL
(6) Texas A&M 38
(15) Arizona State 38 FINAL
Colorado 24
(24) Nebraska 55 FINAL
Fresno State 19
Nevada 28 FINAL
Arizona 35
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Montreal 16 FINAL
Edmonton 33
Toronto 33 FINAL
Calgary 40
Winnipeg 9 FINAL
Brt Columbia 26
Saskatchewan 3 FINAL
Hamilton 28


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