Hard road Gophers’ next eight games

Sunday vs. Ohio State: Many college hoops observers consider the Buckeyes the nation’s No. 1 team after their blowouts of Villanova and North Carolina.

Dec. 21 vs. Oklahoma State in Tulsa: The Cowboys are looking to avenge last year’s loss in Minneapolis, but they lost back-to-back games with star point guard Isaac Likekele out sick.

Dec. 28 vs. Florida International: Richard Pitino’s former program was competitive in losses to Mississippi and North Carolina State, with leading scorer Devon Andrews totaling 38 points.

Jan. 2 at Purdue: The Boilermakers are typically unbeatable at home, but they are more vulnerable this season than when the Gophers won at Mackey Arena in 2017.

Jan. 5 vs. Northwestern: The Wildcats are the youngest team in the Big Ten, so this should be the most winnable league game until playing lowly Nebraska on Senior Day in March.

Jan. 9 at Michigan State: The Gophers have won only once at the Breslin Center — in 2015 in overtime — since the vacated Final Four season in 1997.

Jan. 12 vs. Michigan: The first of back-to-back Big Ten home games could bring the first ranked opponent to the Barn in 2020.

Jan. 15 vs. Penn State: Minnesota’s four-game win streak in the series is currently the longest against any Big Ten opponent, but the Nittany Lions could have their best team under Pat Chambers.

Marcus Fuller