Minnesota will have the opportunity to dominate it's home court in 2014-15, but winning on the road will be a tough task with the conference slate the Golden Gophers have been given.
Here's a look at Minnesota's entire 2014-15 schedule:
— Minnesota MBB (@GopherMBB) August 21, 2014
Getting Illinois, Northwestern and Rutgers at Williams Arena should put a smile on Richard Pitino's face. Northwestern and Rutgers are debatably the worst two teams in the conference and Illinois isn't a whole lot better.
Then, there's the road schedule. The Gophers will take trips to Indiana, Maryland, Michigan and Michigan State without facing any of those teams at home. The home-and-homes include Iowa and Wisconsin, so the Gophers will still face their biggest rivals twice in the expanded conference.
Here's the breakdown of where Minnesota will play it's B1G opponents this season:
|Home Only||Road Only||Both|
|Ohio State||Michigan||Penn State|
The schedule suggests Minnesota's season could turn out to be a series of hot and cold stretches. Their conference season begins with trips to Purdue and Maryland before the Gophers take on Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan. Starting the conference slate better than 1-4 would be a success for Pitino this year.
The next six games, however, include home games against Rutgers, Illinois and Purdue, a trip to Penn State, and both match-ups with Nebraska. Winning four or five games during that run is certainly plausible, if not likely, for a veteran Gopher squad.
Minnesota's play in February may very well determine the result of the season. The Gophers have road games at Iowa, Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State sandwiching a home match-up with Northwestern in mid February. Add hosting Wisconsin on the end of that run and you have perhaps the toughest stretch any Big Ten team will face this season.
The Golden Gophers are going to have some ups and some downs due to the schedule. Overall, the conference slate isn't too difficult though, and Minnesota should be in position to go dancing.