Saturday, November 3, 2007

Tubby's First Schedule

Since we are now just one week away from the beginning of the men's basketball season, I decided to begin my week-long preview of Tubby Smith's first Gophers team by taking a look at the team's schedule.

Over the next week, leading up to the Gophers hosting Army next Saturday, I'll bring you the following: a look at what type of rotation to expect from Tubby Smith; a look at what types of offensive and defensive philosophies we can expect from Tubby, a discussion on what my expectations are for Tubby and company and a breakdown of the Big Ten.

But to start today, I'm going to look at the 2007-08 Gophers schedule and explain why the first four games of the year are more important then one might think.

The Gophers open against Army, a game I think even Dan Monson would have been able to win. But then Tubby takes his lads on the road for the firs time to Ames, Ia, to face the Cyclones who have given the Gophers fits in recent years. After the trip to Iowa, the Gophers host Central Michigan in another very winnable game. But then it's back to the road for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and a game against Florida State.

So, after four games, the Gophers at worst should be 2-2, but winning one or two of those road games would go a long way to convincing Gophers fans that a new era has begun for the maroon and gold. After that stretch, the non-conference schedule is filled up with relative cream puffs until the Gophers face UNLV during the Duel in the Dessert.

At worst--with potential losses to Iowa State, Florida State and UNLV--the Gophers should be 9-3 heading into the Big Ten season, a mark that would equal the number of wins Monson and Molinari accumulated a season ago.

I also believe the beginning to the Big Ten schedule sets up favorably for the Gophers. They begin by travelling to East Lansing, never an easy place to play. But the Spartans lost to Grand Valley State last night. And while early season contests can often be forgotten, the Spartans looked like they lacked an inside prescense of any kind and didn't have the mental toughness to stay with GVSU in double overtime. After the Spartans, the Gophers host Northwestern and travel to Penn State in two very winnable games before coming home to a tough game against Indiana.

The moral of this rant is that if a couple bounces go the Gophers way--think a win at Iowa State and at Florida State--and the Gophers could find themselves in the Top 25 really quickly if they can take advantage of a relatively soft opening portion to the Big Ten schedule.

For the record, here is my game-by-game prediction....

Army Win

at Iowa State Win .... The 10 days to prepare helps

Central Michigan Win

at Florida State Loss

UC Riverside Win

North Dakota State Win .... avenging the debacle at the Metrodome.

Colorado State Win

South Dakota State Win

Santa Clara Win

Nicholls State Win

Kennesaw State Win

at UNLV Loss

at No. 8 Michigan State Loss

Northwestern Win

at Penn State Win

No. 9 Indiana Loss

No. 8 Michigan State Win

at Ohio State Loss

at Michigan Loss

Wisconsin Loss

at Northwestern Win

Iowa Win

Illinois Win

at Wisconsin Loss

Michigan Win

Penn State Win

at Purdue Loss

Ohio State Loss

at No. 9 Indiana Loss

at Illinois Loss

Record: 18-12 (8-10), on the bubble and needing a run in the Big Ten tournament to grab an NCAA berth.


Mark said...

I'm going to temper my enthusiasm a little and predict 15 wins and a NIT berth, which would be wonderful after what we endured from Monson

Erik said...

Desert, not dessert. Much though I'd love a duel in the dessert.

Tom said...

nice, I too have 18-12, but I think 10-2 nc and 8-10 in conference will be enough to get in.

We have 2 extra B10 games this year which should up our strength of schedule and RPI. Getting 1 big win that isn't expected would do it, I think. Or beating ISU and UNLV to go 11-1 would also be huge and doable.

Gopher Nation

Ver said...

What a fantastic "week-long preview" this is turning out to be....

PJS said...

Apologies, Ver. It's coming. The beginning of the week was more hectic than I would have liked!