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BTN to televise four Gophers men's hoops nonconference games

Chances are you didn't see the Gophers men's basketball team much in nonconference play if you weren't at Williams Arena last year.

Minnesota had just one home game before the Big Ten season televised on Big Ten Network last year, but it will have four nonconference games on BTN in 2016-17. That means the Gophers will be televised as many times on BTN (based on the current schedule) as Michigan State, Indiana, Ohio State and Maryland. Interesting considering Minnesota finished 8-23 overall and 2-16 in the conference last season.

Does BTN know something we don't about how good the Gophers will be?

The games are Nov. 18 vs. St. John's at 8 p.m., Dec. 6 vs. New Jersey Institutue of Technology (NJIT) at 7 p.m., Dec. 9 vs. Georgia Southern at 8 p.m. and Dec. 23 vs. Arkansas State at 6 p.m.

These games don't necessarily knock your socks off since three of the four opponents aren't from major conferences. But there will be more opportunities in early winter to sit at home on the couch and watch a possibly much-improved squad under fourth-year Minnesota coach Richard Pitino.

The Gophers are the only Big Ten team and one of only four major conference teams (also Arkansas, California, Oregon State) not scheduled to play in an exempt event aka preseason tournament/classic this year. 

But the Gophers will be on national television to open the ACC/Big Ten Challenge 6 p.m. Nov. 28 at Florida State on ESPNU. Minnesota also plays Dec. 3 against Vanderbilt at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D., but no TV info is available yet.

Race Thompson, son of Darrell, emerging as a basketball star

Race Thompson tried football.

The son of former Gophers star and NFL running back, Darrell Thompson, was already a 6-foot-1 running back by the sixth grade. Same height as his dad. He showed potential as a quarterback in the ninth grade. 

But Thompson decided to stick to basketball this year at Armstrong High School.

You could say the hardwood is his calling like football was to his dad. Thompson’s combination of power and finesse at 6-foot-8, 220 pounds make him one of the nation’s top prospects in the 2018 class.

The Gophers were the first major conference program to offer Thompson a scholarship last year. In my Sunday profile on Thompson's father dedicating his post-NFL life helping his kids and others, the talented junior forward talked about the Minnesota offer being a big deal not just because his father went to the U.

“Honestly, when I get recruited by the Gophers, I try to forget that my dad went there,” Race Thompson said. “I feel like I probably would feel at home with the Gophers, but I kind of just want to make the right decision and go where my heart tells me to go. When I narrow it down, we’ll just see where it ends up.”

Thompson pays attention to current Gophers players, especially freshmen Amir Coffey and Michael Hurt from Minnesota.

“They’re going to play right away; they’re going to help the team get better,” he said. “It’s cool to think they’re from Minnesota. I always keep that in mind.”

Gophers coach Richard Pitino and assistant Ben Johnson followed Thompson around the AAU scene this summer playing for D1 Minnesota 16s. A 41-point performance in July in Las Vegas came in front of several major conference coaches. Arizona State, Northwestern and Creighton offered him soon after the game, joining Marquette, Iowa State, Kansas State and Nebraska.

Thompson attributes his breakout summer to improving strength and toughness inside. He was already a bouncy forward who could stretch defenses from three-point range and take opponents off the dribble.

“I used to want to not be physical,” he said. “But this summer, I definitely got more physical. I became more of a leader. I was more of a quiet person on the court. But when I’m a leader I think it helps out my team. I don’t want to be a one-dimensional player. So I’ll mix it up in the game. I’ll post somebody up and make a strong move. But on the next play, I’ll shoot a three. Next play, I’ll try to drive and take somebody off the dribble and score on the fastbreak. I try to change up my game a lot, so people can’t predict what I do next.”

In-state in 2018, Pitino has offers to Thompson, Apple Valley point guard Tre Jones, DeLaSalle shooting guard Gabe Kalescheur and Cretin-Derham Hall center Daniel Oturu.

Thompson might have the most potential of any Minnesota player in the junior class. He'll face presssure soon from local fans to follow his dad to the U. But he won't be influenced by that, just like he decided football wasn't for him this year.

“There’s no internal pressure for my kids to go to the University of Minnesota,” Darrell Thompson said. “(The Gophers) have to want my kid. If they want my kid and my kid wants them, then they should go to the U of M. But there’s no pressure to go there.”

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Wichita at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Detroit at Twins

    7:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Detroit at Twins

    12:10 pm on MLBN, 96.3-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6:30 pm

  • Lynx at Connecticut

    6 pm on 106.1-FM

  • Twins at Toronto

    6:07 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6:30 pm

  • Saints at Lincoln

    6:35 pm on 1220-AM

  • Twins at Toronto

    12:07 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6 pm

  • Saints at Lincoln

    6:35 pm on 1220-AM

  • Minnesota United FC at Miami FC

    7 pm on Ch. 29

  • San Diego at Vikings (preseason)

    12 pm on Ch. 9, 100.3/1130

  • Twins at Toronto

    12:07 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Saints at Lincoln

    5:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Seattle at Lynx

    6 pm on ESPN2, 106.1-FM

  • Twins at Cleveland

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Twins at Cleveland

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Twins at Cleveland

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Minnesota United FC at Fort Lauderdale

    6:30 pm on CBSSN

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

Today's Scoreboard

  • Houston

    Pittsburgh

     

    - F

    5

    4

  • Colorado

    Milwaukee

     

    - F

    1

    7

  • Cleveland

    Oakland

     

    - F

    1

    5

  • Chicago Cubs

    San Diego

     

    - F

    6

    3

  • NY Yankees

    Seattle

     

    - F

    5

    0

  • Baltimore

    Washington

     

    - F

    10

    8

  • LA Angels

    Toronto

     

    - F

    8

    2

  • Texas

    Cincinnati

     

    - F

    6

    5

  • Kansas City

    Miami

     

    - F

    0

    3

  • Boston

    Tampa Bay

     

    - F

    3

    4

  • Philadelphia

    Chicago White Sox

     

    - F

    5

    3

  • Detroit

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    9

    4

  • NY Mets

    St. Louis

     

    - F

    1

    8

  • Atlanta

    Arizona

     

    - Bot 7th

    4

    9

  • San Francisco

    LA Dodgers

     

    - Top 8th

    0

    1

No NFL games today

No NBA games today

No NHL games today

  • Toronto FC

    Orlando City SC

     

    - F

    2

    1

  • Philadelphia

    Columbus

     

    - F

    2

    1

  • D.C.

    Montreal

     

    - F

    1

    1

  • Los Angeles

    Chicago

     

    - F

    2

    2

  • Seattle

    Houston

     

    - F

    1

    1

  • New England

    San Jose

     

    - F

    0

    0