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

Opening tip: Where the Gophers improved Saturday; Ann Arbor's best offerings

Posted by: Amelia Rayno Updated: March 3, 2014 - 10:02 AM

The Opening Tip is a new feature to Gold in the Barn, with the goal being to share five 
nuggets -- mostly Gophers or Big Ten related but occasionally not -- every morning between 8 and 10. Dig it? Hate it? Want to see something specific in it? Send me feedback at amelia.rayno@startribune.com or tweet me @AmeliaRayno.

Random Rankings is an even newer feature, which will be included regularly, if not daily. There is nothing too random. Sometthing specific you want ranked? Tweet me.

Five tidbits as I settle in for a full week without games. 

1. Skip lunch and join me for my live chat at noon -- Bring your Big Ten questions, your Gophers queries, your Bigfoot musings, your whiskey wonderings ... etc. Who needs another lifeless salad with coworkers anyway? Not you.

2. In case you missed it, my game story from Saturday night's loss at Michigan, plus more notes here.
 
3. Recruiting update: Gophers 2015 target Elijah Thomas finished with 20 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks for Lancaster vs. Kimball; from Saturday, 2015 guard Desure Buie finished with 17 points, 12 assists, five rebounds and five steals for Wings Academy. Plus a few notes on 2014 target Kobie Eubanks from Adam Zagoria here. The shooting guard skipped his visit to Wichita State over the weekend. Via D1 Circuit.

4. As Selection Sunday draws nearer, the Gophers are firmly on the bubble, even if they win their upcoming game against Penn State over the weekend. Last week, coach Richard Pitino said he doesn't think it's the time for politicking just yet, but if he was going to make a case for Minnesota, he would point out one thing. "I do hope at some point people understand we lost two games without our leading scorer," he said, referring to Andre Hollins' severe ankle sprain, which kept him out for most of three games. "I'd hope at some point, when that time comes, that's factored into it. It's not easy playing without our best player and we didn't have him for two of our losses, so that would be the only thing. I don't think anyone's listening to me though."

5. Yes, the Gophers lost on Saturday. But one area where they've been steadily improving is their fouling rate (defensive FTA/FGA), something that's been a big problem all year. According to kenpom.com, the Gophers again improved in that area against Michigan, shrinking their overall rate of sending opponents to the line from 40.3 (.403 trips to the line for every field goal attempt) to 39.6, taking the Gophers from 170th to 154th in the nation.


Random rankings: Ann Arbor spots

1. Mash -- A weird but entertaining blend of people; a wall of whiskey; I believe there was some live piano action.
2. Zingerman's Roadhouse -- Always a must. They do everything in-house and churn out really good food that's really bad for you. Including bloody marys in times of need.
3. Aventura -- Here, I had Brussels sprouts that made me want to cry with joy. Brussels sprouts are not supposed to make you do that. Plus some great cocktail-making here, and one of the bartenders was pouring liquid fire at one point. So there's that.
4. Cafe Zola -- The brunch was ridiculous.
5. Grange -- I didn't make it on this trip, but last time I was there I had some duck fat french fries that nearly sent me the way of the Brussels sprouts. Good food overall, and a cozy dinner spot.

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