The Gophers men’s basketball team will play DePaul as part of hosting a multiple-team event at Williams Arena for the 2019-20 season, sources told the Star Tribune.
The entire field of the five-team event and the date will be announced when Minnesota’s nonconference schedule is released soon. The Big Ten schedule came out last week with the U opening at Iowa and vs. Ohio State
Gophers coach Richard Pitino lost three starters, including All-Big Ten players Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey from a 21-win NCAA tournament team. But Pitino’s newcomer-laden squad will be put the test with six major conference opponents during the 2019 nonconference schedule, the most for the program since 1991-92.
Counting the early December games in the Big Ten that gives Minnesota eight major conference opponents before the 20-game league schedule resumes in January. Whoa.
Adding an Power Six opponent like DePaul was something Pitino previously said he wanted to reward fans who come to support his team at the Barn in nonconference play.
The Gophers only other non-Big Ten major conference foe at home will be Clemson as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Dec. 2. Going on the road in nonconference, Minnesota plays Oklahoma on Nov. 9 in Sioux Falls, S.D, Nov. 12 at Butler, Nov. 15 at Utah and Dec. 21 vs. Oklahoma State in Tulsa.
Minnesota trails DePaul 8-9 in their all-time series that goes back to 1933. The last meeting between the programs was with the Gophers winning 86-85 in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando in 2011-12 under Tubby Smith.
The Blue Demons were 19-17 overall last season after finishing runner-up in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI). They were 7-11 in the Big East, but fifth-year coach Dave Leitao added more talent to his squad for this year.
DePaul was projected to finish higher in the Big East than Butler at No. 8 in SI.com’s summer conference projections for the 2019-20 season. The Blue Demons signed a top-30 recruiting class, which included four-star forward Romeo Weems. They also added Division I transfers Charlie Moore (Kansas), Darious Hall (Arkansas) and Carte’Are Gordon (St. Louis).
But Gordon recently announced he was leaving the program and Moore is still waiting for a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately.
Leitao also will serve a three-game suspension to begin the season and his program was placed on three years of probation due to NCAA violations. A former Blue Demon staff member allegedly was involved in providing an “impressible benefit” when living with a recruit to help him become academically eligible to enroll at the school.
The Gophers open the 2019-20 season on Nov. 5 vs. Cleveland State at Williams Arena.