Series: First Meeting
Series (Home): First Meeting
Current Streak: —
Richard Pitino vs. Cleveland State: 0-0
Minnesota vs. Horizon League: 18-3
Richard Pitino vs. Horizon League: 0-1
• The University of Minnesota tips off its 123rd season of men’s basketball on Tuesday night, hosting Cleveland State in the first match-up between the two schools.
• The Gophers are looking to improve on an impressive record in season openers. Last year, Minnesota defeated Omaha to improve to 95-23 in lid-lifters since the program’s inception in 1896. The Gophers have now won 21 of their past 22 season openers including four straight.
• Minnesota is embarking on one of the toughest starts to the schedule in many years. After Tuesday’s opener against the Vikings, the Gophers will play the next three games away from home, all against high-major conference competition. The Gophers have not faced three high-major teams in their first four games (excluding preseason tournaments) since 1969 (Notre Dame, UCLA, at Iowa State). Minnesota has not played three such opponents away from home since 1956, starting the season at Notre Dame, Marquette and Creighton twice.
• Minnesota welcomes seven newcomers to the court this season, the most since the 2004-05 campaign. Among the group is three transfers: guards Payton Willis (Vanderbilt) and Marcus Carr (Pittsburgh) who sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules, along with graduate transfer Alihan Demir (Drexel). Four freshmen in guards Bryan Greenlee and Tre’ Williams, along with big men Sam Freeman and Isaiah Ihnen round out the corps of fresh faces.
• Before the season tipped off, the Gophers and head coach Richard Pitino continued their annual tradition of raising money for the fight against Cancer. On Sunday night at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, more than $117,000 was grossed in the fifth annual Coaches vs. Cancer Tipoff Dinner. All proceeds from the event benefit the Richard M. Schulze Family American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Minneapolis, which provides accommodations and support to families and patients during their time fighting the disease.
SCOUTING THE VIKINGS
• Tuesday’s game marks the first for new CSU head coach Dennis Gates, who was hired this offseason after a long tenure as an assistant at Florida State.
• CSU welcomes 11 newcomers, tied for the fifth-highest total in Division I this season, while also returning a pair of starters in Jaalam Hill and Kasheem Thomas. The former, a senior, is the team’s returning leader in scoring (11.2), rebounding (6.1), blocks (1.1) and steals (0.9).
• The Gophers and Vikings share a pair of common non-conference opponents this winter, as both teams will host Florida International and DePaul.
Gopher sophomore center Daniel Oturu of Woodbury sat down with MNN Sports Director Mike Grimm to preview the game and the season:
• Minnesota begins its week-long road trip with a visit to Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D., where the Gophers will face Oklahoma in a game presented by Coaches vs. Cancer.
• Big Ten Network will broadcast the game live with tip-off scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
(info and picture courtesy of Gopher Sports)