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11/14 Big Ten Preview: Minnesota Faces Princeton in Asheville Championship

NCAA Basketball: North Dakota at Minnesota Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

There is only one Big Ten game today, with Minnesota set to face Princeton in the Asheville Championship tonight. The game tips off after the main slate of NFL games, providing an alternative to Sunday Night Football. Minnesota does miss out on facing a power conference opponent in the non-conference slate, though, as Princeton beat South Carolina on Friday to advance to the title game.

Game of the Day

Minnesota Gophers vs Princeton Tigers

  • Time/TV: 7:30 PM ET (ESPN2)

The Gophers are 2-0 so far this season, but a 15 point win against Kansas City in the opener and a 4 point win last time out against Western Kentucky isn’t exactly inspiring a ton of confidence. The Gophers have a handful of games coming up that they’ll need to win before a rough stretch starting at the end of the month that includes road trips to Pitt, Mississippi State and Michigan, with a home game against Michigan State in between.

Minnesota only returned two players from last years team and one of those guys is out for the season, so Eric Curry is the lone holdover. In an expanded role Curry is leading the team in rebounding with 7 per game, while also adding 9 points per outing. Payton Willis, who actually played a season in Minnesota back in 2019-20, has paired well with E.J. Stephens in the backcourt and has provided some offensive firepower. George Washington transfer Jamison Battle has led the team so far in scoring, with 38 points in the first two games.

Princeton beat sub division Rutgers-Camden 94-28 in the opener before edging South Carolina 66-62. They did that even though they committed 18 turnovers, mainly because they were able to hold the Gamecocks to 36.2% from the field and 4 of 26 from three.

This is a hard game to gauge on paper because Minnesota should be the better team but with an entirely new roster and new coach, it’s safe to say the Gophers haven’t fully came together yet and that there’ll be growing pains in the process of doing so (look no further than Nebraska, who has struggled with Fred Hoiberg relying on transfers and having little roster consistency). Princeton has looked pretty good, but South Carolina isn’t a great SEC team and you can’t really take much from a rout of Rutgers-Camden.

If Minnesota can continue to see some solid production from Battle and their guards, they should find a way to pick up the win. It’s much needed as the Gophers need to win every winnable game they can get before the schedule ramps up.

Pick: Minnesota