Richard Pitino is all for tough nonconference schedules, so he’s already making sure the Gophers basketball team will be challenged again next season.
The Gophers have scheduled to play a home-and-home series with Mississippi State, sources confirmed with the Star Tribune.
The first game will be played against the Bulldogs at Williams Arena in December following the early Big Ten schedule. The second meeting will take place during the 2021-22 season in Starkville, Miss.
CBSSports.com’s Jon Rothstein first reported the matchup in a tweet Thursday afternoon.
Also part of the Gophers nonconference schedule next season will be the Hall-of-Fame Tip-Off in Uncasville, Conn. in early November. Minnesota, Central Florida, Marquette and Rhode Island are part of the four-team classic.
The Bulldogs, coached by Ben Howland, finished 20-11 overall last season, including tied for fourth in the SEC with an 11-7 record.
The Gophers finished 15-16 overall and 12th in the Big Ten, but they had one of the toughest schedules in the country. In fact, Minnesota's schedule strength (SOS) was ranked No. 3 nationally by ESPN's Basketball Power Index. That was primarily because of the depth of the Big Ten this season, but Pitino also played road games at Utah and at Butler, and played neutral site games against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma this past season. He also scheduled DePaul at home.
Minnesota will not play in the Gavitt Games next season, but there will be enough nonconference matchups to put Pitino's team to the test in 2020-21.