U men’s basketball gameday

7 p.m. vs. South Carolina Upstate • Williams Arena

TV/stream: BTN Plus • Radio: 100.3 FM

Hype gets real for No. 15 Gophers

Preview: The No. 15-ranked Gophers begin their fifth season under coach Richard Pitino against USC Upstate looking to win for the 20th time in the past 21 season openers. Minnesota enters the season ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 2009 and highest since being 10th going into the 1993-94 season. Pitino returns all five starters, including 87 percent of his scoring and 92 percent of his rebounding from last season. The Spartans under first-year coach Kyle Perry return three starters from a 17-16 team last season, including leading returning scorer Mike Cunningham (13.4 ppg), a preseason All-Atlantic Sun selection.

Players to watch: Sophomore guard Amir Coffey and freshman guard Isaiah Washington combined for 50 points on 17-for-26 shooting in a 115-86 exhibition win Sunday against Wisconsin-Green Bay. Coffey and Washington were the top two recruits signed by Pitino in the 2016 and 2017 classes, respectively. Coffey averaged 12.1 points per game last season.

Numbers: The Gophers were ranked third in the Big Ten in the media’s preseason poll, behind Michigan State and Purdue.

MARCUS FULLER