Since the 2007-08 season, the Minnesota Golden Gophers have been able to corral at least 20 wins in six of the last seven seasons, with the highest win total (25) coming a year ago when Richard Pitino's club won the 2014 NIT in Pitino's first year at the helm in the Twin Cities.
The Gophers were certainly tested in their nonconference slate in 2013, with matchups against Syracuse Orange, Florida State Seminoles, and Arkansas Razorbacks, Minnesota went a hearty 11-3 in the first two months of the season.
With how the 2014 slate looks, the Gophers may find themselves relatively unscathed again.
Right out of the chute, it's a nepotistic battle as Minnesota takes on the Louisville Cardinals in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. The Cardinals, of course, are coached by Rick Pitino, the father of Richard, the coach for the Golden Gophers. Louisville is expected to, once again, be one of the top teams in the nation led by the likes of Montrezl Harrell, so this will no doubt represent the Gophers' toughest test of this portion of the schedule.
From there, the NIT Season Tip-Off begins with three games at Williams Arena. Minnesota will welcome the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, the Franklin Pierce Ravens of Division II, and the UMBC Retrievers to the barn for mid-November matchups.
Then, the attention shifts to Madison Square Garden where the Golden Gophers won the NIT last April. There, they will take on the St. John's Red Storm, which will be about as much of an "away" game as a neutral site affair could be. Depending on their result in that contest, and what happens elsewhere, they will match up with either the Gonzaga Bulldogs or Georgia Bulldogs two days later.
From there, the barrel's left relatively thin. Minnesota will be traveling to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but will finish out with six relatively lax matchups. These include games against the Western Carolina Catamounts, North Dakota, the Southern Jaguars, the Seattle Redhawks, Furman Paladins, and the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks.
In all, Minneosta's nonconference schedule leaves a little bit to be desired, but they are certainly in better shape than other schools in the conference, and will be tested right from the get go.
What do you think of Minnesota's nonconference schedule? Give us your thoughts in the comments section!