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 closer look at Minnesota's 2014-15 schedule

Posted by: Amelia Rayno Updated: August 22, 2014 - 2:31 PM

Striking a balance on an NCAA schedule isn’t an easy task.

Ideally, a program lines up strong enough competition to keep fans intrigued and bolster a solid resume come postseason, but not so strong that it risks embarrassing losses and fatigue before the conference schedule begins (particularly a concern when a team plays in the Big Ten, consistently one of the toughest leagues in the country).

A year ago, Minnesota played the No. 9 overall strength of schedule (SOS) in the nation, but the high mark wasn't enough to push the Gophers on the right side of the bubble.

This season, the Gophers may hope they don't need the boost. The non-conference slate, released yesterday as the conference schedule was being announced, likely won't do Minnesota any favors if it needs another selling point in the eyes of the NCAA tournament selection committee in March.

The Preseason NIT Tip-Off is not yet finalized, but even the presence of nameless slots in the three-game span represents possibility when it comes to this lackluster non-conference schedule. Outside of Big Ten play, the Gophers have just one top-100 matchup currently scheduled, Louisville. Two opponents -- UMBC and Furman -- ranked below 325th nationally a year ago according to kenpom.com, and save from Louisville and Wake Forest, the Gophers don't have any opponents within the top 200 on the docket. The Gophers hope that will change, of course, when the NIT field is revealed. St. John's, Gonzaga and Georgia were all originally committed to the tournament -- and would provide a seemingly necessary boost to the current lineup -- but none of those schools have posted their schedules just yet, so it can't be taken as a guarantee.

As for Big Ten schedule, it could be worse. The Gophers face Ohio State (home), Michigan, Indiana and Michigan State (all on the road) just once each, and should benefit from a lighter stretch in the heart of January that includes games vs. Rutgers, Illinois and Penn State around a road trip to Nebraska. The tough spans include the start to the season -- two road games and then Ohio State (home), Michigan (road) and Iowa (home) -- and the end, when the Gophers get Wisconsin twice in the span of three games. Once again, Minnesota will have plenty of opportunities to pull signature wins on the road, and the Gophers will need to perform better away from the Barn if they hope to improve on last year's NIT title.

My prediction: The Gophers go 10-2 (assuming they find some good competition in New York) in the non-conference schedule, and then start out the Big Ten slate slow but gain steam. Minnesota still struggles at times but the road, but behind a veteran-laden lineup, finishes 11-7, ties for fifth in the conference and slides into the NCAA tournament.

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Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg

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