January 2013 Archives

Skate with the Gophers Set for Saturday

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The No. 1 Minnesota men's hockey team is set to host its annual Skate with the Gophers event this Saturday with limited space remaining. 

Saturday's event runs from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at Mariucci Arena with 20-minute sessions for each group of skaters. In addition to skating on  with current Gophers, fans will also be able to participate in the following activities in the Mariucci Arena concourse. 

*Autographs with the 2012-13 Gopher men's hockey team
*Hockey Skills Zone
*Photographs with Minnesota's national championship trophies as well as the MacNaughton Cup
*Equipment try-on station 
*Meet the Gopher Hockey Cheerleaders
*Gopher Basketball free throw contest
*Temporary tattoo and face painting stations
*Sports Authority Spin-to-Win
*And of course...Goldy will be there too!

To register for this year's Skate with the Gophers and to learn more about the event, visit MyGopherSports.com

Note: The doors will open at 12:30 p.m. Please bring your own skates for skating. There are limited skates available to rent. 
For the second night in a row, former Gopher Jim O'Brien dug Ottawa out of an early deficit in route to a Senators' win. 

After sparking the Sens to a 3-2 rally after being down 2-0 to Washington on Tuesday, O'Brien replicated the performance on Wednesday, quickly answering Montreal's early goal with the first of five unanswered scores by the Senators in a 5-1 win over the Canadiens. 

The goal marked O'Brien's third of the season -- tying the third-year forward for a career-best in just seven games this season (3-3--6 in 28 games last season). O'Brien and the Senators return to action on Friday night against Carolina. 


*Jordan Schroeder, Keith Ballard and the Vancouver Canucks came out on top in a 3-0 battle over Erik Johnson and the Colorado Avalanche. 

*Thursday NHL Games with Gopher connections: BUF (Vanek, Leopold) vs. Boston, WAS vs. TOR (Kessel), PIT (Martin) vs. NYR (Bickel), COL (Johnson) vs. CAL, NYI (Okposo) vs. NJD, WPG (Wheeler) vs. FLA.

*In AHL news, Kent Patterson has been called up to the Lake Erie Monsters. Patterson was named the CHL's Goaltender of the Month and Rookie of the Month for December with the Denver Cutthroats. (More to follow). 

Austin Hollins Video Feature: Improving Every Day

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Go Gophers! fans
Go Gophers!
Austin Hollins has emerged as one of the Gophers' go-to scorers this season.
Go Gophers!
Go behind-the-scenes with Gopher juinor Austin Hollins in this exclusive video feature story on the Tennessee native. The junior guard is having a solid season in 2012-13, averaging 10.9 points and 29 minutes per game.

This feature originally aired during "Gopher Basketball with Tubby Smith" which appears each Friday during Big Ten Season on Fox Sports North. Check your local listings for times and more details.

Hollins scored a career-high 21 points against Michigan earlier this season and also led the way in the Gophers' Jan. 6 victory over Northwestern at Williams Arena, hitting a career-high five three-pointers in just three minutes of play.

NHL: O'Brien Sparks Comeback Win for Ottawa

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Former Gopher Jim O'Brien sparked a three-goal rally for Ottawa on Tuesday night in a 3-2 Senators' win over Washington. After the Capitals scored twice in the first period, O'Brien tallied his second goal of the season with 1.23 left in the second period -- the first of three unanswered goals by the home squad (Milan Michalek and Sergie Gonchar would add third period goals for Ottawa). 

Now just six games into the season, O'Brien needs just one goal to tie his career best (3-3--6 in 28 games in 2011-12). 

Wheeler Nears 200 Career Points 

Blake Wheeler picked up a power-play goal on Tuesday in Winnipeg's 4-3 loss to Montreal. The forward has three goals and three assists this season, bringing his career point total to 197 (77 goals, 120 assists). Here's Wheeler's blast of a power-play goal from Tuesday night: 


*Buffalo's Thomas Vanek moved up to sixth in the NHL scoring race on Tuesday with his 10th point of the season (an assist in the Sabres' 4-3 overtime loss to Toronto). With three goals and seven assists in five games this year, Vanek is averaging two points a game. 

*Some AHL news: Jeff Taffe had an assist and finished at +2 for the Eastern Conference at Monday's AHL All-Star Game. Taffe ranks eighth in AHL scoring this season with 38 points (nine goals, 29 assists), 

*Wednesday NHL Games: MTL at OTT (O'Brien), CHI (Leddy) at MIN, COL (Johnson) at Vancouver (Schroeder, Ballard). 

Gophers In The Pros

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After a relatively quiet night in the NHL on Monday, we're unveiling a new weekly blog post for fans who want to follow ALL former Gophers playing professional hockey. Every Tuesday we'll post season totals for Minnesota alumni, whether they play in the NHL, the AHL, the ECHL, the CHL or any other league that keeps track of stats. 

Here's the first edition of Gophers In The Pros!  

Go Gophers! MN_IND
Go Gophers!
Monday NHL Notes

*Four Gophers were in action on Monday -- Ballard (VAN), Schroeder (VAN), Goligoski (DAL) and Johnson (COL). 

*Goligoski assisted on Dallas' only goal in a 2-1 loss to Columbus while also tallying four shots, two hits, two penalties and a blocked shot. Here's the former Gopher defenseman's assist on Philip Larsen's second period goal to give Dallas a 1-0 lead. 

*Vancouver fell 3-2 to Los Angeles with Ballard finishing the night +1 with one shot, two blocked shots and two hits. Schroeder added a pair of blocked shots and finished the game with an even ranking. 

*Johnson finished the night at +1 for the Avalanche and had four shots, one hit and two penalty minutes in a 4-1 loss to Edmonton. 

*Tuesday NHL games: NYR (Bickel) vs. PHI, TOR (Kessel) vs. BUF (Vanek, Leopold), DAL (Goligoski) vs. DET, OTT (O'Brien) vs. WAS, WPG (Wheeler) vs. MTL, NYI (Okposo) vs. PIT (Martin).

Gophers Earn No. 1 Ranking for Fifth-Straight Week

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For the fifth-straight week, the Minnesota men's hockey program is the top-ranked team in college hockey in both the USCHO.com poll and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. 

Minnesota (18-4-4 overall, 10-4-4) picked up 975 total points including 28 first-place votes in this week's USCHO.com poll to edge second-ranked Quinnipiac (18-3-3, 967 points, 22 first-place votes). New Hampshire (15-6-2, 871 points), Miami (15-6-5, 835 points) and Boston College (14-7-2, 771 points) round out the top five this week. 

The Gophers are also the nation's top team according to this week's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, picking up 497 points including 23 first-place votes. Quinnipiac ranks second with 485 points and 11 first-place votes while Miami (420), New Hampshire (417) and Boston College (369) round out the top five. 

Elsewhere in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, North Dakota ranks seventh in the USCHO.com poll and eighth in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. Denver comes in at 10th in both polls, St. Cloud State ranks 12/13, Omaha sits at 14th in both polls with Minnesota State sitting one spot back in 15th. Wisconsin improved to 19th in this week's USCHO.com poll. 

The Gophers are off this weekend before heading to St. Cloud State the following weekend for the first and only series between the two in-state rivals this season (both programs' last in the WCHA). The Huskies sit on top of the WCHA standings currently with 25 league points -- one point ahead of Minnesota and Omaha in a second-place tie with 24. 

Sneak Peek: No. 23/24 Gophers vs. Nebraska

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Go Gophers! Mikayla Bailey
Go Gophers!


The Gophers are set for an 8 p.m. tilt against Nebraska on Tuesday. Gophersports.com's Jeff Fett took a look at the Cornhuskers before the two teams' first of two meetings this season.

Head Coach: Tim Miles

Current Record: 11-10, 2-6 Big Ten

Last Year's Big Ten Record: 4-14

Top 5 Leading Scorers: Dylan Talley-13.4 ppg; Ray Gallegos-12.7 ppg; Brandon Ubel-12.1 ppg; Shavon Shields-7.4 ppg ; Andre Almeida-5.9 ppg.

Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Brandon Ubel-7.0 rpg; Dylan Talley-5.5 rpg; Shavon Shields-5.0 rpg; Andre Almeida-3.9 rpg; David Rivers-3.3 rpg.

Notable Non-Conference wins: Wake Forest, USC, Tulane

Notable Non-Conference losses: Creighton, Oregon, Kent State

Conference Wins: Penn State, Northwestern

Conference Losses: Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois


Go Gophers! Rodney Williams
Go Gophers!
The Gophers and Cornhuskers will meet again in March.
Go Gophers!

In just its second year playing Big Ten basketball, Nebraska hopes it can make a little noise as the Cornhuskers transition into what they hope will be a contender in years to come.

Tim Miles, who was the head coach at Colorado State last year and took over for the fired Doc Sadler, has a team with only one returning starter in Brandon Ubel. Miles has been making progress on the recruiting trail, but it may take a little while before he sees the Cornhuskers make a move in the Big Ten.

The Cornhuskers lost 73 percent of the team's minutes from last year's squad, meaning a lot of inexperienced players are getting a chance to contribute this year. To take some of that burden, they are relying on a pair of freshmen and a couple of transfers.

Nebraska is off to a 2-6 start in the conference season. While the transition to better basketball may take a little while, the Cornhuskers hope to finish strong during this steppingstone season as they wait for Miles recruits to hit the hardwood.

The No. 1 Gophers may be off this weekend, but the Don Lucia Radio Show continues tonight at the Beacon Public House on campus. If you haven't checked out the new restaurant yet, catch tonight's show live starting at 6 p.m. as Coach Lucia and Wally Shaver discuss all things surrounding Gopher hockey. Tonight's show also airs live on 1500 ESPN

Tonight, Lucia and Shaver break down last weekend's split with Minnesota State and look ahead to the Gophers' road trip to St. Cloud State following the bye weekend. The duo will also look ahead to the upcoming OfficeMax Hockey City Classic -- Minnesota's first outdoor game in the modern era on Feb. 17 at Chicago's Soldier Field against WCHA rival Wisconsin. 

Fans can also participate in the show via social media by tweeting their questions using the hash tag #PrideonIce. We'll ask the best questions live on the air. 

The Beacon Public House offers great deals each week for the Don Lucia Radio Show including half price entrees and a happy hour special. The Beacon Public House is located in the new Commons Hotel on campus (615 Washington Avenue SE). 

Former Gopher Nick Leddy's first goal of the year sure was a big one -- the overtime game winner in Chicago's 2-1 victory over Detroit on Sunday night that gave the team its sixth-straight win to open the season (a franchise record). 

Leddy -- in his third year with the Blackhawks -- has five points (one goal, four assists) this season including four in the last five games. The defenseman, who scored on his only shot of the night and finished the game as a +1, needs one more point for his 50th career mark.


*There were two Gophers vs. Gophers matchups on Sunday night. Blake Wheeler's Winnipeg Jets topped Kyle Okposo and the New York Islanders 5-4 in overtime while Paul Martin and the Pittsburgh Penguins took a 2-1 shootout victory from Jim O'Brien and the Ottawa Senators.

*Wheeler had an assist that helped spark a two-goal rally for the Jets to force overtime and also added three shots, two blocked shots and a hit. Okposo also tallied an assist along with one blocked shot, two hits, two shots and a minor penalty. 

*O'Brien had four hits in the game for Ottawa while Martin had a pair of blocked shots and led the Penguins with 30:26 of ice time. 

*Jordan Leopold finished +1 with a blocked shot and a hit in Buffalo's 3-2 loss to Washington. Thomas Vanek, who had been on the ice for all 11 of Buffalo's goals through the first four games of the season, sat out Sunday's game with a muscle strain. 

*Jordan Schroeder, Keith Ballard and the Vancouver Canucks dropped a 4-1 game to the still unbeaten San Jose Sharks. 

*Monday NHL games for the Gophers: Vancouver (Ballard, Schroeder) vs. Los Angeles, Dallas (Goligoski) vs. Columbus, Colorado (Johnson) vs. Edmonton. 

Instant Analysis: Minnesota 4, Minnesota State 1

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Here are some thoughts from the Gophers' 4-1 victory over Minnesota State.


Gophers Win in Mankato

The Gophers bounced back from yesterday's disappointing 2-1 lost to claim a 4-1 victory in Mankato. The Gophers have not lost a WCHA weekend since last February at Denver. Minnesota had more energy in the early stages of tonight's game, blocked shots, and got a boost from first-period goals by Justin Hull and Nate Schmidt and a 26-save effort by Adam Wilcox.


Much Better Start

On Friday night, Minnesota looked sluggish and failed to use the hometown crowd to their advantage early in the contest. Saturday, on the road, the early effort was there. The Gophers took the crowd out of the game and aggressively attacked the Mavericks in the first period with solid fore-checking. The Gophers registered just eight shots on goal in the first period Friday. Tonight, they had 13. The late power-play goal by Nate Schmidt capped off a road period the Gophers could take pride in.


Holl Has One

Justin Holl scored his first goal of the season with a spectacular individual effort, turning over a puck and finishing on a breakaway. In fact, it was Holl's first goal in 42 games. The goal was especially important to the Gophers because it gave them an early lead on the road. Before this season, Holl was an everyday defenseman for Minnesota. He has done a great job transitioning to a forward role in 2012-13. He was one of the most noticeable Gophers on Friday night and continued to make his presence felt on Saturday, creating multiple grade A scoring chances with his speed.


The Captain Comes Through

When a team has a disappointing loss like the Gophers did Friday night, the captain has extra responsibility to help the team positively respond. Gopher captain Zach Budish did just that. He had a goal and an assist tonight. His goal gave the Gophers breathing room in the third period. He was one of three Gophers, (Rau and Haula) to have multiple points in the game. Tonight's performance comes after a three-point weekend against North Dakota.


Mavericks Have Impressed This Season

Minnesota State played step for step with the Gophers in all four meetings this season. Tonight was the last WCHA regular season meeting between Minnesota and Minnesota State. However, the teams will continue to play next year as non-conference opponents. The Mavericks are tentatively scheduled to visit Mariucci for a pair of games next season. The season series ended split, 2-2.


Written by Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock

NHL Alums: Vanek, Schroeder, Wheeler Notch Big Nights

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Former Gopher Thomas Vanek continued his offensive tear on Friday night with Buffalo's lone goal in a 3-1 loss at home to Carolina to move into a tie with Joe Thornton for the NHL scoring lead with nine points this season (three goals, six assists). 

Vanek is averaging more than two points a game as the Sabres are 2-2 after the first week of the NHL season. Here's Vanek's power-play goal from Friday night (just 1:56 into the game as Buffalo came out of the gate for an early 1-0 lead): 

Vanek also had six penalty minutes and six shots in the loss while teammate and fellow Gophers alum Jordan Leopold had a shot and a minor penalty for the Sabres. 

Schroeder Nets First NHL Point 

In just his second game in the NHL, Jordan Schroeder recorded his first point on Friday night -- assisting on Mason Raymond's third period goal that capped a 5-0 win for the Canucks over Anaheim. Schroeder and current Vancouver teammate and fellow former Gopher Keith Ballard both finished the night at +1. (See Schroeder's assist at the 3:22 mark of the video below) 

Wheeler's Jets Top Martin's Pens

The NHL season is just a week old, but we've already had several Gopher vs. Gopher matchups. We had another on Friday night as Blake Wheeler and the Winnipeg Jets beat Paul Martin and the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 4-2. Wheeler had two points in the home win (one goal, one assist) while also adding one hit and one blocked shot. Martin did not record and statistics in the game but was third on Pittsburgh's roster with 22:21 of ice time. 

Wheeler's first point of the night came on Evander Kane's first period goal at 1:10 that sparked a Jets comeback after two first period goals by Sidney Crosby.

The goal sparked the home team with Winnipeg proceeding to score four unanswered goals including Wheeler's empty netter with eight seconds left. 

In Other News

-Jim O'Brien had two shots and a hit in Ottawa's 4-6 loss to Tampa Bay on Friday night. 

-Kyle Okposo had two shots and a hit in the New York Islanders' 2-4 loss to Boston. 

-Saturday games to watch: Colorado (E. Johnson) vs. San Jose, Toronto (Kessel) vs. New York Rangers (Bickel), Dallas (Goligoski) vs. St. Louis, Chicago (Leddy) vs. Columbus.  

Instant Analysis: Minnesota State 2, Minnesota 1

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Thoughts after the Gophers' 2-1 lost to Minnesota State.


Mavericks End the Streak

The Gophers were topped by Minnesota State for the second time this season by a score of 2-1. A late goal by Brett Knowles was the difference. Minnesota's unbeaten streak ends at 10 games. It is the first time the Gophers have lost since November (Omaha). It is also the first time the Mavericks defeated the Gophers at Mariucci Arena since December of 2009. In all three meetings this season, The Gophers have seen just how challenging it is to play Minnesota State this year. The Mavericks have been the better team for all large portions of all three games.


Goalie Battle

The top two freshman goalies in the WCHA collided tonight, and they did not disappoint. The Gophers' Wilcox and the Mavericks' Williams came into the weekend tops in the league in goals against average. Both Goalies were strong at different times during the game. Williams made 37 saves and Wilcox made 31. Stephon Williams stopped the Gophers' streak of scoring at least four goals in a game at nine and collected the victory tonight.


Schmidt's Success

Nate Schmidt burst on to the scene last year as an offensive force from the backend. Schmidt's ascent up this year's scoring chart can be traced back to a three-point against the Mavericks when the teams met in early November. He was the first to get on the board tonight when a pass from Nate Condon deflected off a Minnesota State skate right to him. Schmidt made no mistake putting the puck past Williams in the Mavericks' net. It would be the Gophers only goal of the game.


Other Notes

Minnesota State scored the winning goal 44 seconds from the end of the third period. Brett Knowles was on the spot to score his second goal of the season in a goalmouth scramble. The Gophers best line tonight was the line of Serratore, Boyd, and Holl. Justin Holl, the converted defensemen, created chances with his speed and blocked shots at the defensive end. He seems to be adjusting nicely to his forward role. The top point producers did not get it done for the Gophers tonight.


Can the Gophers Bounce Back?

When the Gophers played a home-and-home with the Mavericks in early November, they lost on Saturday night in front of an inspired crowd in Mankato. Tomorrow, Minnesota again must go to Mankato and play at the Verizon Wireless Center. Last time in Mankato, the Gophers made too many mental mistakes and got off to a very slow start. Tonight, they were again too sluggish and a late burst of energy was not enough. They will look to avoid a similar fate when the square off with the Mavericks in Mankato Saturday night.



Written by Minnesota Communications intern Josh Brennock

Video: Vanek's Slick Setup

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The Buffalo Sabres are only three games into the NHL season, but Thomas Vanek already has quite the highlight reel going. Last night's behind-the-back setup on Jason Pominville's third period goal certainly didn't disappoint even though the Sabres would eventually fall to Carolina 6-3. 

Vanek ranks tied for second in the NHL this season with eight points (two goals, six assists) including a pair of assists in last night's game (fellow Gopher alum Jordan Leopold also had an assist for Buffalo). Vanek opened the season with a career-best five point game last weekend. 

Buffalo and Carolina meet again on Friday night. 

Gopher Teammate Trivia

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How much do the Golden Gopher women's basketball players really know about each other? Find out in Gophersports.com's weekly series, Gopher Teammate Trivia!

Hosted by Matt Nelson, this week's edition of Gopher Teammate Trivia has junior Kionna Kellogg answering questions about Micaella Riche. Enjoy!

Gophers Hockey Q&A: Nick Bjugstad

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Considering over 20,000 fans turned out over the weekend  for Minnesota's final WCHA regular-season series with North Dakota, there's a good chance you've already seen last weekend's game day Q&A with Nick Bjugstad. But in the off chance you missed it, here's your chance. We talked with Nick about the team's final season in the WCHA, his work with youth hockey players and the team's recent trip to Feed My Starving Children. Give it a read! 

Gophersports: You were selected as an alternate captain before the season started. What does it mean to you to hold that honor and how do you try to lead this team?

Bjugstad: "It's an honor to represent the University of Minnesota as an alternate captain this year, and I'm excited to wear the 'A' every night at Mariucci Arena in front of our fans. We've got a lot of great leaders on the team, especially among the older guys, who lead by example. I just try to keep us focused every day and make sure myself and the team are working hard."

It's no secret that this is one of the weekend's that college hockey fans have been salivating for all season. What goes through your mind as your prepare for North Dakota this weekend?

"We've had a lot of great tilts and great battles in the past with North Dakota, and obviously they're one of our biggest rivals every year. The guys get really excited for the games, and our fans are always pumped up for it - it's just a phenomenal experience. It's definitely a series that you look forward to and mark on your calendar. It's really easy to get up for these games - your adrenaline is rushing and the rink is always full of rowdy fans."

At the same time, the Gophers have reached the point in the season where you guys are playing some teams for the final time as members of the WCHA. Do you reflect on that as you're playing some of these non-Minnesota schools?  

"The WCHA is a great league with a lot of top teams and rivalries, so we have to take advantage of this experience. We might not see some of these teams for a while in the regular season, so it's important to cherish the moment and make sure we are having fun. I'd say North Dakota is our biggest rival, and it's going to be tough not having them in the Big Ten, but I'm sure we'll see them down the road."

It seems like every day in the locker room, you're the guy running the music. How did you procure this position and what do you normally play?

"Last year, I got vetoed from music selection duties in the locker room, so this year I'm taking advantage of being an upperclassmen. I try to mix it up. The guys think I only play rap, but I'll play all different kinds of music - sometimes I'm a crowd pleaser and sometimes I just play the stuff that Helgeson and I like. A lot of the guys like country, but I'm not a big fan. Me and "Helge" like our rap."

You've always worked with your uncle - Gopher alum and former NHL forward Scott Bjugstad - and now you're helping him with some younger players. Do you enjoy working with youth hockey players?

"Yeah, I really enjoy helping my uncle and working with some of the younger kids - working with skating and shooting with them. I've been doing it since I was little. My uncle has always worked with me - perfecting my shot and helping me become a better hockey player. There's a lot more that goes into it than most people realize, and it's nice to have a mentor like that. It's great to be able to go out and return the favor, working with the little guys."

Last week in between games, the Gophers had the chance to go to Coon Rapids and work with Feed My Starving Children - packaging food for children in Haiti. You guys beat Notre Dame the night before, but they edged you by one box in a friendly competition the next day. What was that experience like?

"That was really fun. I'd heard of Feed My Starving Children in the past but hadn't been able to work with them, so it was great that we were able to go as a team bonding experience along with Notre Dame. It was a fun little competition, and it all went to a great cause. It's pretty rewarding when you can feed that many kids. It was disappointing that we lost to Notre Dame by one box, but I think some of our guys miscounted - it's a tough break for us."

You once missed a section tennis championship to go the NHL Entry Draft Combine. Do you ever think you might have given up a prosperous tennis career?

"No, not at all. My partner and I had a good run senior year, but it was my only year on the team and I just wanted to have some fun. They called us the "Twin Towers" because we were both tall, and our strategy was to just rush the net. It was pretty tough to get the ball over us."

Sneak Peek: No. 12 Gophers at Wisconsin

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Go Gophers! Mikayla Bailey
Go Gophers!

This Saturday, the No. 12 Gophers will look to bounce back from some tough losses as they take on Wisconsin at the Kohl Center in Madison. Gophersports.com's Jeff Fett takes a look at Minnesota's border rival.

Head Coach: Bo Ryan

Current Record:
13-6, 4-2 Big Ten

Last Year's Big Ten Record:

Top 5 Leading Scorers: Jared Berggren-12.5 ppg; Ryan Evans-10.9 ppg; Ben Brust-10.6 ppg; Sam Dekker-9.2 ppg; Mike Bruesewitz-7.5 ppg.

Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Ryan Evans-7.0 rpg; Jared Berggren-6.4 rpg; Ben Brust-5.7 rpg; Mike Bruesewitz-5.2 rpg; Sam Dekker-3.4 rpg.

Notable Non-Conference Wins:
Arkansas, California

Notable Non-Conference Losses:
Florida, Marquette, Virginia, Creighton

Conference Wins: Penn State, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana

Conference Losses: Iowa, Michigan State


Wisconsin is one of those teams you can always pencil in to compete in the top half of the Big Ten and, once in a while, make a long run in the NCAA tournament. This year should be the same. The Badgers have 12 of 14 lettermen returning and a solid freshman class contributing right now.

The season did not get started the way Wisconsin wanted. The Badgers lost Jordan Taylor to graduation and then lost his replacement, Josh Gasser, to a torn ACL. But the Badgers still got off to a 4-0 start in Big Ten play. Ben Brust has been taking the reins leading the Badger backcourt.

Perhaps Wisconsin's biggest strength is inside. Forwards Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz and Ryan Evans have been making life difficult for teams to pound the ball inside night in and night out. They've also been getting help from athletic 6-7 freshman forward Sam Dekker.

If there is a weakness on this team it is that the Badgers do not have the premier scorer that can light it up night in and night out. They play as a team in every sense of the word.

The Badgers have not missed the NCAA tournament since 1998, and if their backcourt can stay productive, they should make it again this year.

Gophers Meet the Media: Minnesota State

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This week's edition of Gophers Meet the Media shines the spotlight on two players from out of state.

Erik Haula, from Pori, Finland, returned to the Gophers' lineup last weekend after missing three games with an injury. The junior picked up right where he left off in his first action of 2013, recording a goal and two assists while increasing his scoring streak to 16-straight games with a point. 

"I really worked hard to get back, and I tried to bring as much to the table as I could. It felt good knowing I could help the team," Haula said.

Haula moved from his usual center role to the wing playing alongside Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau. There are some mouth-watering possibilities the highly-skilled combination could deliver. 

"I would say we have the ability to be a pretty good line. But, it is not that easy to setup a new line and get it going right away," Haula said.

Expect to see Erik on the wing for another week or two.

Wisconsin native Nate Condon broke out against North Dakota last weekend registering five points in the two games. "I have finally been getting some shots to go in here and there. I think things are just clicking for me right now," Condon said

Condon filled the void at second-line center left by Erik Haula joining the top line. Condon joined forces with Zach Budish and fellow out-of-state player Sam Warning (Chesterfield, Mo.). The line has found some quick chemistry. 

"Sam is a real skilled guy. A real fast player who pushes the puck up and down the ice. Then, we have Zach who is going to muscle the puck and work in the corners. He creates a lot of space for Sam and I to work the puck around. It has been working great," Condon said.

This weekend the Gophers have a home-and-home with Minnesota State. Don't expect Minnesota to have a let down coming off an emotional weekend with North Dakota.

 "The last time we played against (Minnesota State) we split with them. I think the intensity is still there, especially since it is an in-state game. There is not really a let down when you can play a game like that," Condon said. Erik Haula expects a challenging series with the Mavericks "It is going to be a hard weekend. They always play us tough. We have to make sure we start well both nights." 

-Story by Minnesota Communication Intern Josh Brennock

Wheeler Tallies Game Winner Over Caps

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Blake Wheeler has made a career out of making goals look easy and his first tally of the season tonight --  the eventual game winner in Winnipeg's 4-2 win over Washington -- was no exception. 

We're big believers in giving credit where credit is due, and you can't deny the impressive play by Evander Kane to get the puck into the offensive zone and put the puck right in Wheeler's wheelhouse. Wheeler finished the night with two points, having assisted on Kane's goal earlier in the game. 

Wheeler and the Jets are back in action on Friday when Paul Martin and the Pittsburgh Penguins visit Winnipeg.

Blog: Gophers Meet Media Before Traveling to Evanston

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Statistically Speaking: Gophers Among National, Big Ten Leaders | Minnesota Game Notes

The Gophers met the media after their Tuesday afternoon practice to preview Wednesday's game at Northwestern. Minnesota picked up a home win against the Wildcats earlier this month, but has not won at Welsh-Ryan Arena since 2008. Sophomore point guard Andre Hollins feels that dealing with the Northwestern crowd will be a factor in the game.
Go Gophers! Andre Hollins
Go Gophers!
Dre Hollins will make his second trip to Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Go Gophers!

"They play really well at home," he said. "And we have to get back to playing good defense. We haven't played the best defense these past couple games. Taking care of the ball is the No. 1 thing. We've beaten ourselves in almost every game that we've lost. That's going to be key--taking care of the ball, making shots and playing good, sound basketball."

Minnesota won this season's first matchup 69-51 behind Austin Hollins' 19 points, but the Gophers will not take the Wildcats lightly.

"Bill Carmody and his staff, their team--they always find a way to make adjustments to give themselves a chance," head coach Tubby Smith said.

The Gophers are looking to snap a two-game losing streak. After starting Big Ten play with a 3-0 record, the Gophers lost to two of the top teams in the conference in Indiana and Michigan. Minnesota is still No. 12 in the country, and still has a positive outlook moving forward. The Gophers will try to start a new winning streak on Wednesday night.

"We definitely can't let those two losses get to us," senior forward Rodney Williams said. "We've got a long season left ahead of us. This will be a chance for us to show everybody what we've really got."

Schroeder Set for NHL Debut on Wednesday

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It looks as though former Gopher Jordan Schroeder will make his NHL debut on Wednesday for the Vancouver Canucks. The Prior Lake, Minn., native was recalled by Vancouver earlier today from the Chicago Wolves (AHL), skated with the Canucks in the afternoon and is expected in the lineup Wednesday night against Calgary. 

"I'm excited -- I've been working really hard for this. It's been a long time, and I'm really looking forward to the opportunity," Schroeder told CanucksTV. "I'll definitely have some butterflies, but you have to treat like it's just another game. Just do your job and good things will happen." 

The 2009 WCHA Rookie of the Year, Schroeder spent two years with the Gophers after being drafted 22nd overall by the Canucks in 2009. With Minnesota, the forward tallied 73 points in 72 career games before signing with Vancouver in 2010. 

Since signing, Schroeder has played in 188 games with Vancouver's AHL affiliates (first the Manitoba Moose and most recently the Chicago Wolves), scoring 100 points (44 goals, 56 assists). In 30 games this season with Wolves, Schroeder has tallied 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists). 

If Schroeder dresses for the Canucks tomorrow, as is expected, the forward will be the 13th former Gopher to play in the NHL this season.  

Statistically Speaking: Gophers Among National, Big Ten Leaders

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By Jeff Fett, Gopher Basketball Beat Reporter

The Gopher men's basketball team is halfway through the season, and the offense that was projected to be a strength before the season is one that is showing up on the stats sheets.

As a team, the Gophers appear in the top 50 out of 345 teams in the nation in several offensive categories right now. They have also lit up the stat sheet in a few areas on the defensive side as well.

*    Won-lost percentage: 83.3% (24th)
*    Final points: 45th
*    Scoring offense: 76.2 points per game (37th)
*    Scoring margin over opponents: 13.7 points per game (26th)
*    Field goal percentage: 47.1% (31st)
*    Rebound margin over opponents: 9.8 (4th)
*    Assists per game: 16.4 per game (18th)
*    Blocked shots per game: 6.4 per game (8th)
*    Steals per game: 9.6 per game (15th)
Go Gophers! Trevor Mbakwe
Go Gophers!
Mbakwe has ruled the boards in the Big Ten.
Go Gophers!

So far the Gophers are still in the early stages of the Big Ten season, but they are dominating in blocks per game, which they have done for the last five years. They are also tops in the conference in several other categories as seen below.

*    Blocked shots: 6.4 per game
*    Steals: 9.6 per game
*    Offensive rebounds: 16.0 per game
*    Offensive rebound percentage: 47.9%

Statistically, the Gophers have several players in the top 10 in the Big Ten individually, primarily led by senior forwards Trevor Mbakwe and Rodney Williams. Sophomore guard Andre Hollins is also lighting up the stat sheet in several categories as well.

*    Scoring: Andre Hollins-14.3 points per game (10th)
*    Field goal percentage: Mbakwe- 58.3% (5th), Williams-53.1% (9th)
*    Assists: Andre Hollins-3.7 per game (9th)
*    Free throw percentage: Andre Holins-77.2% (10th)
*    Steals: Austin Hollins-2.1 steals per game (2nd), Joe Coleman-1.6 steals per game (9th)
*    3-point field goal percentage: Andre Hollins- 42.9% (5th), Austin Hollins-41.0% (10th)
*    3-point field goals made: Andre Hollins-2.0 per game (t-8th)
*    Blocked shots: Mbakwe-1.7 per game (3rd), Williams-1.4 (4th)
*    Rebounds: Mbakwe-8.2 per game (t-1st)
*    Offensive rebounds: Mbakwe-3.2 per game (1st), Williams 2.8 per game (2nd)
*    Defensive rebounds: Mbakwe-5.0 per game (6th)

In the conference-only standings, the Gophers top several statistical categories.
*    3-point field goal percentage: 46.8%
*    Assists: 16.2 per game
*    Rebounding margin: 8.8 per game
*    Blocks: 6.0 per game
*    Offensive rebounds: 14.2 per game
*    Offensive rebounding percentage: 45.2%
*    Rebounds: Mbakwe-10.8 per game
*    Offensive rebounds: Mbakwe-4.4 per game
*    Defensive rebounds: Mbakwe-6.4 per game
*    3-point field goal percentage: Austin Hollins-59.3%
*    3-point field goals: Austin Hollins-3.2 per game

O'Brien Picks Up First Goal of the Year in Ottawa Win

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Former Gopher Jim O'Brien scored his first of the year and his fourth career NHL goal last night as the Ottawa Senators routed Florida 4-0. 

O'Brien's third period juke made Florida defenseman Stephen Weiss miss completely on a check attempt before the Senators forward beat Panthers goalie Jose Theodore low for Ottawa's third goal of the night. 

Looking at O'Brien's career stats, three of his seven career points have come against the Panthers including two of his four goals. The Senators and Panthers meet again on Thursday night. 

Gophers Maintain No. 1 Ranking, Earn Share of WCHA Lead

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For the fourth week in a row, the Minnesota men's hockey program has earned the No. 1 ranking in both the USCHO.com poll and the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine poll. After picking up three Western Collegiate Hockey Association points with a win and a tie against North Dakota last weekend, the Gophers (17-3-4 overall, 9-3-4 WCHA) are now also tied with St. Cloud State for first place in the league with 22 points each. 

This week's USCHO.com poll saw Minnesota earn 998 points including 48-of-50 first-place votes. Quinnipiac picked up the remaining first-place votes and finished second in the poll with 920 points. Boston College (913), New Hampshire (857) and North Dakota (746) rounded out the top five in this week's poll. Also representing the WCHA in this week's poll are Denver (10th, 545), Omaha (13th, 358), Minnesota State (14th, 356), St. Cloud State (16, 336) and Wisconsin (20, 66). 

The USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll mirrored its counterpart with Minnesota earning 31-of-34 first-place votes and a total of 507 points. Quinnipiac earned 457 total points including the remaining three first-place votes. Boston College (453), New Hampshire (403) and North Dakota (329) rounded out the top five. Other WCHA representatives on this week's poll were Denver (11th, 157), Omaha (14th, 68) and St. Cloud State (15th, 64). Minnesota State -- this week's opponent -- received 57 points but did not earn a ranking in this week's poll. 

Tight WCHA Race

With seven WCHA teams ranked in this week's USCHO.com poll, it's no surprise that the race for the MacNaughton Cup is already heating up. The top seven teams in the league standings are separated by just three points with Minnesota and St. Cloud State pacing the race with 22 points each. Omaha, North Dakota and Denver are just two points back in a three-way tie for third while Minnesota-Duluth and Minnesota State right in the middle of the fight with 19 league points each. 

Notable Gopher Stats

*Minnesota's leading scorer -- junior Erik Haula -- has 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) this season and has tallied a point in 16-straight games. Haula tallied in both games last weekend -- his first action of 2013 after missing the first three games of the new year with an injury. 

*Junior Nate Schmidt is the nation's top scoring defenseman with 23 points (four goals, 19 assists) this season. Schmidt is averaging 0.96 points a game -- also the most among all NCAA defensemen this season. 

*The Gophers are the nation's top scoring offense this season with 93 goals and an average of 3.88 goals per game. Minnesota leads the WCHA in scoring offense, scoring defense (45 goals against, 1.88 goals against per game, third in the nation), penalty kill (71-for-79, .899, fifth in the nation) and power play (28-for-116, .241, fourth in the nation). Minnesota is the only team in the nation to rank in the top five for all four categories.

*The Gophers are 12-1-2 this season at Mariucci Arena with the team closing out an eight-game home stand this Friday against Minnesota State at 7 p.m. (Big Ten Network, 1500 ESPN). Minnesota, which heads to Mankato for the tail end of a home-and-home series on Saturday (FOX Sports North PLUS, 1500 ESPN), has not played a road game since tying Colorado College 4-4 in overtime on Dec. 8 -- a span of 49 days. 

Vanek Opens Season With Career Game in Sabres Win

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Thomas Vanek opened the NHL season with a bang on Sunday, contributing on all five of Buffalo's goals in a 5-2 Sabres win over Philadelphia. The former Gopher earned three assists and notched a pair of goals including this dandy of a move to beat Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and tie the game at 2-2 late in the second period. 

The five-point performance was a career-high for the Sabres alternate captain, who was drafted fifth overall by Buffalo in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft after helping the Gophers capture the 2003 NCAA National Championship and earning Frozen Four MVP honors. 

"It's a lot of luck when you get that many points," Vanek told the Buffalo News. "I was fortunate every pass I made went in, and when I scored, I scored. You won't have many of those nights. You enjoy it, you like the win and you move on." 

Vanek and Gophers alum/Buffalo teammate Jordan Leopold both finished the game as plus-ones. 

Martin/Kessel/Leddy Also Start the Season Hot
*Paul Martin picked up three assists over the weekend as Pittsburgh opened the season with a pair of wins. The defenseman had two helpers in the Penguins' 3-1 win over Philadelphia on Saturday and added another assist in Pittsburgh's 6-3 win over the New York Ranges on Sunday. 

*Phil Kessel added a pair of assists in Toronto's 2-1 win over Montreal to open the season after tallying a career-high 82 points last season. 

*Nick Leddy picked up a pair of assists over the weekend as Chicago improved to 2-0 with wins over Phoenix and Los Angeles. 

Instant Analysis: Minnesota 4, North Dakota 4

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Here are some quick thoughts from the Gophers 4-4 tie with North Dakota.

Gophers Earn Three Points

Tonight's game ended in a 4-4 tie after the Gophers scored two goals in the third period. The result means the Gophers collected three points this weekend against their rival from North Dakota, and ran their unbeaten streak to 10 games. Minnesota ends the weekend two points clear of North Dakota in the WCHA standings. The Gophers finsh the weekend atop the WCHA standings.

Gophers Make A Comeback

North Dakota scored the first two goals of the second period to take a 3-1 lead. The Gopher battled back in the second period, picking up a goal later from Sam Warning to cut the North Dakota lead to one. North Dakota went back up by two goals in the third period courtesy of Drake Caggiula. With less than 10 minutes remaining in the third period, Nick Bjugstad scored to trim UND's lead back to one. Nate Condon tied the game at four with just-under three minutes remaining in the third period. It was Condon's fifth point of the weekend. The game ended in a tie despite good opportunities for North Dakota to win the game in overtime.

Impressive Point Streaks Extended

Both The Gophers' Erik Haula and North Dakota's Corban Knight increased their splendid point streaks. Haula used an assist on Nick Bjugstad's goal to put his streak at 16 games. After missing three games with an Injury, Erik has picked right up where he left off. North Dakota forward Corban Knight moved his point streak to an amazing 19 games with a goal to give North Dakota the 2-1 lead at the time.

Parenteau Gets His First

Jake Parenteau scored his first goal of the season in the first period to tie the game at one. It came at a critical time for the Gophers after Danny Kristo had given North Dakota the lead just one minute and 11 seconds earlier. Patenteau was in the lineup as a forward this weekend, playing alongside Christian Isackson and Seth Ambroz. Mark Alt and Isackson picked up helpers on the goal. For Alt, he now has two assists in the last three games.

Goodbye For Now

The University of Minnesota and North Dakota have no more scheduled matchups. The archrivals have met on the ice 290 times with the first meeting coming in 1930. The Gophers lead the all-time series 145-130-15, with the two squads squaring off in many national tournaments. Minnesota fans will fondly remember the 1979 NCAA Championship Game when the Gophers topped UND 4-3. Perhaps it was fitting the two teams played to a tie tonight. The teams could meet in the WCHA Final Five this season or in the national tournament in the coming years, but regular battles between the bitter rivals will be missed on both sides.

Written By Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock

Gophers Celebrate Hockey Day Minnesota

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There's no question that Saturday will be a phenomenal day for hockey -- the Gophers take on North Dakota for the last time in the regular season as WCHA rivals and the Minnesota Wild are back in action with the team's season opener against Colorado. 

What a great way to celebrate Hockey Day Minnesota! 

The seventh annual Hockey Day Minnesota is currently underway with over 21 hours of Minnesota hockey on FOX Sports North all day today. Here's a couple quick notes about the Gophers and Hockey Day Minnesota. 

Shining in the Spotlight

The Gophers (17-3-3 overall, 9-3-3 WCHA) are 4-2-0 all-time on Hockey Day Minnesota including an active two-game winning streak. Minnesota is 4-1-0 at Mariucci Arena on Hockey Day Minnesota.  Here's the breakdown: 

Hockey Day Minnesota Results
Date Game Info Results
1/20/2007 Minnesota vs. Denver W, 5-4
2/9/2008 Minnesota at Denver L, 1-4
1/17/2009 Minnesota vs. St. Cloud State W, 8-6
1/23/2010 Minnesota vs. St. Cloud State L, 1-4
2/12/2011 Minnesota vs. Denver W, 7-3
1/21/2012 Minnesota vs. Colorado College W, 2-1

Playing on the Pond

The Gophers will play their first outdoor game in the modern era next month, but two Gophers already have outdoor hockey experience thanks to Hockey Day Minnesota. 

Junior forward Nick Bjugstad suited up for Blaine against Aaron Ness and the Roseau Rams in 2008 at Baudette Bay. The  Rams earned a 1-0 win, but the experience was a positive one for Bjugstad. 

"It's a great event for hockey across the whole state. As a high school player, it was exciting to be on FOX Sports North and to play outside," Bjugstad said. "It was a great experience, especially playing against a top-notch team like Roseau." 

Sophomore Kyle Rau also participated in Hockey Day Minnesota, leading Eden Prairie to a 4-3 road win over Hermantown in 2010.

"Hockey Day Minnesota is just one of those events that everybody in the state gets excited for, and it keeps getting better each year," Rau said. "It was a lot of fun to play outdoors, especially growing up and playing on all the outdoor rinks we have in Minnesota." 

Instant Analysis: Minnesota 5, North Dakota 1

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Here are some quick thoughts on the Gophers 5-1 victory over North Dakota. 

Another Top Team Goes Down

The Gophers picked up another win over a highly-ranked opponent. Minnesota can add No. 6 North Dakota to their growing list of impressive wins. It includes Boston College and Notre Dame. In all the Gophers have not dropped a contest since November 30th versus Omaha. Since that date, the Gophers are 8-0-1. They will go for the sweep of North Dakota tomorrow.

 Haula's Back

Erik Haula returned to the Gophers' lineup for the first time since getting injured against Boston College. He was slotted on the left wing, playing alongside Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau. Haula posted a goal and an assist. In addition, he was slashed on a breakaway late in the second period leading to the power play where the Gophers scored their second goal. Erik collected his 100 career point with assist on Schmidt goal in the third period, which made the score 3-1 Haula put the game on ice with an empty-net goal to make the score 5-1.

 Second Period Turning Point

Late in the second period, the Gophers got a key goal and never relinquished the lead. Nate Condon took a shot, which deflected in to the air. The first player to find it when it came down was Seth Ambroz. He was able to put the puck on net and start whacking away at it and goalie Clarke Saunders. The puck was finally pushed over the line by Ben Marshall with only six seconds left to go in the period. The Gophers took the momentum to the third period.

Condon's Night

The star of the night was Gopher forward Nate Condon. He posted a game-high three points. Nate assisted on two critical goals for the Gophers in the second period. He picked up his first assist on the goal by Zach Budish, which tied the game at one. His second assist came on the game-winning goal. Condon fired a shot towards the net and it was deflected in the air. Ambroz and eventually Ben Marshall found it to give the Gophers the key one-goal lead heading into the final frame. Nate's goal was a spectacular individual effort. While the Gophers were on the penalty kill, he blocked a shot and raced the other way past the remaining North Dakota defenders before going top shelf to put Minnesota up 4-1.

Issuing a Warning to Opponents

Perhaps no Gopher is feeling better about his game than Sam Warning. He extended his point streak to six games in fine fashion. With the Gophers trailing 1-0, Sam made a diving play along the wing to get the puck in the middle for Zach Budish. Zach wasted no time putting the puck beyond Clarke Saunders and into the net to tie the game at one. Warning had four assists last weekend against Alaska Anchorage.

Written By Minnesota Communications Intern Josh Brennock

Gopher Teammate Trivia

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How much do the Golden Gopher women's basketball players really know about each other? Find out in Gophersports.com's weekly series, Gopher Teammate Trivia!

Hosted by Matt Nelson, this week's edition of Gopher Teammate Trivia has freshman Shayne Mullaney answering questions about fellow freshman Jackie Johnson. Enjoy!

Gophers Meet the Media: North Dakota

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With one of the greatest rivalries in hockey set for this weekend at Mariucci Arena, the No. 1 Gophers spoke with members of the media on Wednesday ahead of the team's Western Collegiate Hockey Association series with No. 6 North Dakota. 

The Friday-Saturday series marks the final regular-season meetings between the two intense rivals with both teams calling the WCHA home. The Gophers move to the Big Ten Conference next season while North Dakota heads to the NCHC. The significance of this weekend's series hasn't been lost on the players or staff as the weekend approaches. 

"There's always a little extra emotion when you're playing North Dakota just because of the rivalry," Minnesota redshirt junior Zach Budish said. 

Even beyond the rivalry, this weekend's series has significant implications to the league race as the second half of the season continues. Minnesota (16-3-3- overall, 8-3-3 WCHA) and North Dakota (13-6-3, 8-3-3) are current tied for third in the WCHA -- one point behind a two-way tie for first between Denver and Omaha. 

"It's a critical weekend as far as WCHA play and standings are concerned," Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. 

Sneak Peek: No. 9 Gophers vs. No. 5 Michigan

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Go Gophers! MN_IND
Go Gophers!

This Thursday evening at the Barn marks one of the most anticipated match-ups in recent Gopher basketball history: No. 5 Michigan takes on No. 9 Minnesota in the first game between Top-10 ranked teams at Williams Arena since 1972 (not counting the vacated season of 1976-77). GopherSports.com's Jeff Fett gives us a quick look at the Wolverines.

Big Ten Preview: Michigan

Go Gophers! fans
Go Gophers!
Thursday marks the first match-up of Top-10 teams at Williams Arena since 1977.
Go Gophers!

Head Coach: John Beilein

Last Year's Big 10 Record: 13-5

This Year's Big 10 Record: 3-1 (Ws vs. Northwestern, Iowa, Nebraska; Loss at OSU).

Top 5 Leading Scorers: Trey Burke-18.0 ppg; Tim Hardaway Jr.-16.1 ppg; Nik Stauskas-12.7 ppg; Glenn Robinson III-12.3 ppg; Jordan Morgan-6.6 ppg.

Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Mitch McGary-5.4 rpg; Glenn Robinson III-5.8 rpg; Jordan Morgan-5.5 rpg; Tim Hardaway Jr.-5.4 rpg; Nik Stauskas-3.2 rpg.

Notable non-conference wins: Pittsburgh, Kansas State, N.C. State, Arkansas, West Virginia, Bradley

Notable non-conference losses: None


This year's Michigan team is unlike ones in year's past. The Wolverines still rely on the 3-point ball, but not as much. Michigan also has much more athleticism. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke lead a team that hasn't lost a game this season. To make things worse for the other teams in the Big Ten, Michigan has a freshman class that's making a big impact right now. Power forwards Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary and guard Nik Stauskas add depth and more athleticism to a team that already has an abundance of it. Michigan has played well against tough non-conference opponents. They've beat up on West Virginia and Kansas State, and handled N.C. State, who's been in the top 20 all season. The only slight weakness is how young this team is. Three of the Wolverines top six scorers are freshmen this season.

After being upset in the second round of the NCAA tournament last year, the question remains how much has Michigan learned from that experience. The Wolverines should be a strong contender for the Big Ten title this year and if everything falls just right, they should be in the hunt for a National Championship as well.

Burst the Barn Sunday vs. Nebraska

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Go Gophers! Burst the Barn
Go Gophers!

Go Gophers!
Click here to purchase your tickets!

The Gopher women's basketball home contest vs. Nebraska on Sunday is jam-packed with promotions and deals for fans. Any Minnesota fan will be able to find a reason to come out and support the Gophers, who are off to their best start since the 2005-06 season with a 13-4 record.

The Gophers are looking to "Burst the Barn" in the contest at Williams Arena Sunday at 5:00 p.m., with head coach Pam Borton set to donate $1,000 to five different charities should the attendance reach 5,000 fans. The charities looking to benefit from Coach Borton's generosity are the Ann Bancroft Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Twin Cities, Urban Ventures, Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Animal Humane Society.

How can you get in on Sunday's Big Ten women's basketball action? Just $10 buys you:

* 2 Bench Tickets (must order in advance of the game)
* Gopher Meal Deal Ticket - Bench Ticket and $5 Concession Voucher (available for all home games)
* A Great Seat for intense Big Ten basketball action!

Don't forget to wear your favorite white t-shirt, as the team is looking to "White Out" the Barn for the contest!     

Gophers Visit Minnesota Children's Hospital

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Photo Gallery

The University of Minnesota women's basketball team used its extra time during winter break to make a special visit to the Minnesota Children's Hospital on Monday afternoon. The Golden Gophers were guests on Children's TV! Star Studio, which is the hospital's very own in-house TV channel, where they co-hosted BINGO with "The Dude".

Upon arrival, the Gophers were given the rundown on the parts they would play in the show and helped "The Dude" come up with funny introductions for each player. After a quick run through, BINGO began at 1:30 p.m., with members of the team getting introduced individually. Freshman Jane Thompson, senior Katie Loberg and sophomore Rachel Banham each served co-hosts during the three BINGO sessions.

Each session had three winners, with patients (or their family members) calling in live to the studio to check their numbers and confirm their BINGO. Each call was recorded and the winners were each delivered prizes.

Whenever a BINGO was confirmed, the studio turned into a dance party, with the Gophers showing off their best moves in celebration of the winning card.

Following nine dance sessions during the hour, the show was over and the Gophers headed to the back room to sign the studio's Wall of Fame. Other names on the wall included the Minnesota Twins' Joe Mauer and the Minnesota Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio.

The team also go a special visit from one of the patients at the hospital and posed for a quick photo!

Fans can watch the show in its entirety above thanks to the Children's Star Studio! Follow the Children's Star Studio on facebook at facebook.com/ChildrensStarStudio and on Twitter @CHCStarStudioMN.


Gophers Remain No. 1 in National Polls

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After picking up three wins last week including a 4-1 victory over then No. 2/3 Notre Dame, the Minnesota men's hockey program has been tabbed as the top team in the nation for the second week in a row. 

Minnesota, which also earned its first Western Collegiate Hockey Association sweep of the year last weekend over Alaska Anchorage, sits atop the USCHO.com poll and the USA Today / USA Hockey Magazine poll with a 16-3-3 overall record and an 8-3-3 mark in WCHA play. 

Go Gophers! fans
Go Gophers!
Gopher men's hockey remained No. 1 in both polls this week after sweeping Alaska-Anchorage.
Go Gophers!
In the midst of a season-long eight-game unbeaten streak, the Gophers earned 47-of-50 first-place votes and 992 total points in this week's USCHO.com poll. Boston College, New Hampshire, Quinnipiac and Notre Dame round out the top five. 

Likewise, Minnesota earned 31-of-34 first-place votes  and 507 total points in this week's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll with Boston, New Hampshire, Notre Dame and Quinnipiac finishing second through fifth, respectively. 

Minnesota continues the 2012-13 season this weekend against  No. 6 North Dakota -- marking the Gophers' third and fourth game against a top-ten opponent in the last 20 days. Minnesota is 6-0-1 against nationally ranked teams this season. Friday's series opener is set for 7 p.m. while Saturday's finale -- the final WCHA regular-season meeting between the two fierce rivals -- is scheduled for 5 p.m. as part of Hockey Day Minnesota. Both games will be broadcast live on FOX Sports North with radio broadcasts on 1500 ESPN and Gophersports.com. 

Coaches Luncheon Set for Today at Jax Cafe

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University of Minnesota head women's basketball coach Pam Borton and her staff, in conjunction with the Fast Break Club, will hold their second Coaches Luncheon of the 2012-13 season today at Jax Cafe in Minneapolis. The event is set to get underway at 11:30 a.m.

The Coaches Luncheons serve as a great way for Golden Gopher women's basketball supporters to discuss the season and enjoy great company throughout the year.

Gopher Teammate Trivia

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How much do the Golden Gopher women's basketball players really know about each other? Find out in Gophersports.com's weekly series, Gopher Teammate Trivia!

Hosted by Matt Nelson, this week's edition of Gopher Teammate Trivia has sophomore Rachel Banham answering questions about redshirt freshman Kayla Hirt. Enjoy!

Sneak Peek: Gophers at Indiana

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Go Gophers! MN_IND
Go Gophers!

Gopher Basketball is riding high - the Gophers have started the B1G season 3-0 and are 15-1 overall. Their No. 8 national ranking (AP Poll) is also the highest of the Tubby Smith era and best since the vacated 1996-97 season. The Gophers travel to Indiana Saturday morning for an epic conference showdown; GopherSports.com writer Jeff Fett takes an early look at the Hoosiers.

Big Ten Preview: Indiana

Head Coach: Tom Crean

Last Year's Big 10 Record: 11-7

This Year's Big 10 Record: 2-0 (wins over Iowa and Penn State)

Top 5 Leading Scorers: Cody Zeller-16.5 ppg; Victor Oladipo-13.3 ppg; Christian Watford-12.7 ppg; Will Sheehey-12.1 ppg; Jordan Hulls-11.1 ppg.    

Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Cody Zeller-7.9 rpg; Christian Watford-6.5 rpg; Victor Oladipo-5.9 rpg; Will Sheehey-4.1 rpg; Kevin Ferrell-3.3 rpg.

Notable non-conference wins: Georgia, Georgetown, North Carolina, North Dakota State

Notable non-conference losses: Butler

Go Gophers! fans
Go Gophers!
The Gophers went into Assembly Hall last season and took down the Hoosiers.
Go Gophers!

Indiana has some big aspirations this season. Not only do they expect to battle for the Big Ten title, they are hungry for a national title this season.

Indiana has everything to expect for a team that could make a long run in the NCAA tournament. They have preseason player of the year in center Cody Zeller. They have solid power forwards in Christian Watford and Will Sheehey. They have an experienced backcourt in guards Victor Oladipo and Jordan Hulls.

Everything is there this season. The only thing stopping the Hoosiers is consistency on the defensive side of the ball. Head Coach Tom Crean has been preaching that to his team, and they have responded. They've only allowed 60 plus points in four contests this season.

Indiana doesn't have many holes in its lineup this season. Barring any major injuries, they should be a serious contender for the Big Ten title. It's also feasible to see them making a run to the final four and possibly the national championship game.
Go Gophers!
Go Gophers!
Go Gophers!
Go Gophers!

Gophers, Notre Dame Compete at Feed My Starving Children

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Photo Gallery 

A day after No. 1 Minnesota picked up a 4-1 win over No. 2/3 Notre Dame on Tuesday at Mariucci Arena, the two hockey programs met again on Wednesday. This time, however, the competition was slightly less intense and benefited a great cause. 

The Gophers and the Irish both spent early Wednesday evening volunteering at Feed My Starving Children in Coon Rapids, Minn., packing food for children in need in Haiti. The two hockey programs packed 104 boxes, which is the equivalent of more than 22,000 meals. In a friendly packing competition, Notre Dame earned retribution for Tuesday's game, packing one more box than the Gophers on Wednesday. 

"We made it into a friendly competition, and they beat us, but it's about feeding the children and getting as many boxes as we could," Minnesota junior captain Zach Budish said. "I thought it was a fun event, great for team bonding, and it was for a good cause." 

A Christian non-profit founded in 1987, Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) tackles world hunger by sending volunteer-packed, nutritious meals to nearly 70 countries, where they're used to operate orphanages, schools, clinics and other building blocks of healthy communities. Last year FMSC produced 133 million meals, maintained its seventh consecutive four-star rating from Charity Navigator and spent 92% of total donations directly on feeding the hungry. To find out more about FMSC, including the location of their seven packing sites, go to fmsc.org.

Photo gallery courtesy of Gopher Radio Network's Frank Mazzocco. 

Gophers Meet the Media: UAA

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Minnesota just closed out its nonconference schedule with an 8-0-0 record, but 16 league games remain on the team's calendar -- meaning nothing is guaranteed for the nation's top team. 

The Gophers (14-3-3 overall, 6-3-3 WCHA) return to conference action this weekend with a pair of league games at Mariucci Arena against Alaska Anchorage. Friday's series opener is scheduled for an 8 p.m. start time (BTN, 1500ESPN) while Saturday is set for the traditional 7 p.m. puck drop (FOX Sports North, 1500ESPN). 

Minnesota picked up three WCHA points earlier this season in Anchorage, picking up a 4-0 win over the Seawolves on Nov. 9 before settling for a 2-2 overtime tie the following night. 

"It was hard to score goals," Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said of the first two meetings. 

"In six periods of hockey, we only scored one 5-on-5 goal. They aren't an easy team to score against. They're not a high-powered, offensive team, but they make it miserable, and you have to try to win a 2-1, 3-2 type of game." 

Additionally, Christian Isackson commented on his second period goal that was featured as the No. 10 play on SportsCenter's nightly Top Ten on Tuesday. 

"I got the easy part of it," Isackson said. "A.J. Michaelson made a great play by taking the guy with puck and it kind of squirted out to me." 

Gopher Football Fans Take Texas!

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While the result of the 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas wasn't exactly what Gopher fans would have hoped for, the Gopher fans that made the trip down seemed to all have a great time. In particular, the 25 student fans that drove down to Houston on a tricked-out "Gopher bus" had a memorable experience!

Watch the video above and read more about these fans' incredible journey via Rick Moore of Rick's "Season Pass" Gopher Football blog!


By Rick Moore, UMN.edu's "Season Pass": A Gopher Football Fan Blog (link)

There's one more tale I wanted to share from Houston, but I ran out of time before the flight home.

It concerns the fate of about 20 University of Minnesota students who signed on for a good old-fashioned road trip to watch the Gophers play in Houston. They boarded a coach bus at 3 p.m. last Wednesday, two days and five hours before kickoff, with the plan of arriving in Houston 20 hours later.

They were reveling in the experience--enjoying poker, war, Uno, and Xbox tournaments--when suddenly their bus pulled over to the side of the road. A belt had snapped, and after a driver's consultation, they wound up inching along at 20 mph to a truck stop a few miles away.

It was, said senior Shelby Morton, the most outspoken spokesperson for the journey, "in the middle of Nowhere, Kansas."
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These Gopher student fans had a memorable journey down to Houston for the 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas!
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They weren't able to get the bus fixed right away; turns out "there was one more piece missing," Morton says, so they got to spend six hours at that truck stop socializing with the locals and the truckers, and presumably playing more games.

They eventually got on a different bus and reunited with their original, repaired coach during a break in Dallas... but there was one more delay after that.

"We had a bit of another detour to get to Houston just because it was dark, it was raining, and we missed a turn," Morton said.

They arrived at the Hyatt Regency in Houston shortly before midnight on Thursday--a half day late but not much worse for the wear.

"It was an experience. Everybody has to have a broken-down-bus trip," Morton said with a chuckle at the pregame party at Reliant Stadium. "Even though we got hung up for a few hours, it was totally worth it. I mean, we're at the game. This is awesome."

She had even more reason to smile. The students partook in a number of contests along the way, and the final one, held Friday afternoon, was for the best game "costume." Morton, sporting a shade of arguably maroon dye in her hair and wearing maroon and gold bib overalls and funky gold shoes, was declared the winner, and returned home with a 55-inch TV.

In addition, she came back with a great broken-down-bus story, another rite of passage in her collegiate journey.

Video: "Locked Out" NHL Gophers Return to Minnesota

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We're all thrilled that the NHL lockout has come to an end, but before the season gets underway, we wanted to share our feature on how Keith Ballard and Paul Martin spent their time off. 

We sincerely appreciate the duo's help around Mariucci Arena over the past couple months and wish both of them, and all Gopher alumni, the best as the season gets underway. 

Gophers Volunteer at Feed My Starving Children

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Members of the University of Minnesota women's basketball team volunteered their time at Feed My Starving Children in Eagan, Minn.,  Tuesday afternoon as part of their community service efforts over winter break.

The Gophers filled, sealed and packed food pouches that will be sent to starving children around the world, with each pouch providing enough food for six meals. At the end of the experience, the team was informed of the impact their two hours of work will have on the world, and with the help of a handful of additional volunteers, the Gophers filled 42 boxes of food which is the equivalent of 9,072 meals.

The organization also informed the team that the pouches it put together will provide 25 children with a daily meal for an entire year!

The vision of Feed My Starving Children is to strive to eliminate starvation in children throughout the world by helping to instill compassion in people to hear and respond to the cries of those in need.

Stoudermire, Gray To Participate In All-Star Games

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Troy Stoudermire and MarQueis Gray are not done playing college football just yet.

The outgoing seniors will participate in separate All-Star Games in the coming weeks. Stoudermire will play in the upcoming Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game on Friday, Jan. 11 at Kino Stadium in Tucson, Ariz., while Gray is scheduled to play in the Texas vs. The Nation game on Feb. 2 at Eagle Stadium in Allen, Texas. 

Stoudermire is the only Gopher participating in the Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game and is one of three Big Ten players in the event, which is in its second year. The inaugural game produced six NFL draft picks and 67 players who were signed to an NFL contract. The game starts at 6 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on ESPN3.

Stoudermire started all 12 games for the Gophers and led Minnesota in tackles (82) and solo tackles (59). He also broke up three passes and notched 3.5 tackles-for-loss. Stoudermire returned 22 kicks this year for 513 yards as he became the NCAA all-time leader in kickoff return yards with 3,615 yards.

Gray is the lone Gopher in the Texas vs. The Nation game as well. The game, which kicks off at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 2, was established in 2006. Since the game began, more than 100 players have been selected in the NFL Draft and more than 500 have signed with an NFL team.

Gray played both quarterback and wide receiver at Minnesota this year, while battling an injury. He rushed for 390 yards and five touchdowns from the quarterback position, while also passing for 472 yards and five touchdowns. Gray also caught 12 passes for 121 yards this year. 

Fan Balloting Now Open for the 2013 Hobey Baker Award

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Go Gophers!Minnesota's Jordan Leopold accepts the 2002 Hobey Baker Award. 
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From HobeyBakerAward.com...

As college hockey enters the second half of the season, fans of the collegiate game can now help determine the winner of the 2013 Hobey Baker Award.

Awarded annually to college hockey's top player, the Hobey Baker's highly popular fan-voting phase opens at noon CT on Monday, January 7. Visit the Hobey Baker website: www.hobeybakeraward.comClick on the Vote for Hobey icon and follow the prompts to make your selection from this year's outstanding crop of 77 college hockey players.  Please spend some additional time to check out our website.

Among those nominated for the 2013 Hobey Baker Award are Minnesota's Nick Bjugstad, Erik Haula and Nate Schmidt. 

This first phase of fan balloting will run now through March 10, 2013. Phase two of fan balloting will begin on March 22 from the list of Top Ten Hobey Baker finalists. The fans' vote accounts for a full 1 percent of the total ballot in each phase in selecting this year's award recipient.

Award criteria include candidates emulating the exceptional character traits exhibited by the award's namesake, Hobey Baker. An American super-hero, Baker was a World War I fighter pilot and was known as America's greatest amateur athlete in his day, excelling at hockey and football at Princeton. Award candidates must demonstrate strength of character both on and off the ice, contribute to the integrity of his team and display outstanding skills in all phases of the game. Consideration should be given to scholastic achievement and sportsmanship. 

Key Hobey Baker announcement dates for 2013 include:

  • Top Ten list of candidates:  March 21
  • Hobey Hat Trick of three finalists:  April 3
  • Hobey Baker Award announcement:  April 12

The 2013 Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced from a field of three Hobey Hat Trick finalists on Friday, April 12, 2013 during the NCAA Frozen Four Championships in Pittsburgh, PA. The 33rd annual award announcement honoring college hockey's top player will be televised live. For more info on the Hobey Baker Award or to access the Hobey logo, please visitwww.hobeybakeraward.com.

Gopher Basketball Blog: A Peek at Illinois

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After a 2-0 start in the Big Ten, the No. 8-ranked Gopher men's basketball team takes to the road for their third conference match-up, Wednesday vs. No. 12 Illinois (8 p.m., Big Ten Network). GopherSports.com writer Jeff Fett gives fans a sneak peak at the Illini, who have started the season 14-2 (1-1 B1G).
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Trevor Mbakwe and the Gophers travel to Illinois Wednesday for a match-up with the No. 12 Illini.
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Big Ten Preview: Illinois

Head Coach: John Groce (1st season)

Last Year's Big 10 Record: 6-12

2012 Big Ten Record: 1-1 (W- Ohio State, L - Purdue)

Top 5 Leading Scorers: Brandon Paul-18.5 ppg; D.J. Richardson-10.6 ppg; Tracy Abrams-12.1 ppg; Tyler Griffey-8.7 ppg; Joseph Bertrand-9.3 ppg.

Top 5 Leading Rebounders: Brandon Paul-5.1 rpg; D.J. Richardson-4.7 rpg; Joseph Bertrand-4.5 rpg;  Nnanna Egwu-4.3 rpg; Tracy Abrams-3.9 rpg.

Notable non-conference wins: Butler, Georgia Tech, Gonzaga, Hawaii, Gardner-Webb

Notable non-conference losses: Missouri


Could this be the year Illinois finally grabs a Big Ten championship title? On paper, the Illini have everything going for them.

The Illini have a loaded backcourt. Seniors Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and junior Joe Bertrand have led the way so far this season. The experience has led the Illini to just one loss in the non-conference season so far.

In the frontcourt, gone is Myers Leonard to the NBA draft, but the Illini have reloaded there. Seniors Sam McLaurin and Tyler Griffey have stepped up in Myers absence, and Nnanna Egwu is showing lots of promise in just his sophomore season.

Last season, Illinois had all of the pieces there as well, but stumbled down the stretch losing 12 out of their last 14 games. Head Coach Bruce Weber was fired, and Ohio Head Coach John Groce was brought into lead the team.

So far, the Illini have played consistent basketball this season. The only weakness this team appears to have is depth. They primarily have a seven-man rotation and in a grueling Big Ten season, one has to wonder if that will hold up come late February into March.

If early season success has anything to do with it, Illinois should be there at the end. The pieces are there for at least an NCAA tournament trip, if they can hold together will determine if they can grab a Big Ten championship.

Patterson Named CHL's Goalie and Rookie of the Month

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Go Gophers!Kent Patterson
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Minnesota's all-time leader in career GAA and save percentage, Kent Patterson, is continuing to have success in the professional ranks. The Gophers alum (2008-12) and current Denver Cutthroats goaltender was named the Warrior Central Hockey League Goalie of the Month and 50/50 Central/CHL Rookie of the Month for December. 

From Brien Rea of DenverCutthroats.com...

The rookie went 6-1-1 during the month with a sparkling 1.85 goals against average and stopped 250 of 265 shots faced (.943 save percentage).  His efforts helped his team go 9-3-2 in the month and move up to third place in the Berry Conference.  The Plymouth, Minnesota native allowed two goals or fewer in five of his eight December appearances and earned his first professional shutout on December 1 against Wichita (29 saves).

On the season, the former fourth-round draft selection of the Colorado Avalanche (2007 NHL Entry Draft) is 10-5-1 with a 2.80 goals against average (tied for sixth in the league) and a .914 save percentage (third in the league).

Patterson was assigned to the expansion Cutthroats at the start of the season from their AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters.  The 23-year-old turned professional after an outstanding college career at the University of Minnesota where he went 28-14-1 during his senior year. 

Gopher Basketball Blog: A Peek at Northwestern

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Gophers vs. Northwestern: Click here to buy tickets!

The Big Ten conference season is underway. The Gophers opened with a win over Michigan State at Williams Arena. Up next is a date with Northwestern on Sunday, Jan. 6. The Wildcats open against No. 2 Michigan on Thursday, Jan. 3 at 6:00 p.m. on ESPN2. Gophersports.com men's basketball beat writer Jeff Fett takes a peak at Northwestern.

Big Ten Preview: Northwestern

Head Coach: Bill Carmody (Union College, '75)
Career Record: 280-220 (17th season)
Record at Northwestern: 188-195 (13th season)

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Trevor Mbakwe and the No. 9 Gophers host Northwestern Sunday at 6 p.m.
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2011-12 Big 10 Record: 8-10

Top Scorers: Reggie Hearn-14.5 ppg; Dave Sobolewski-11.3 ppg; Jared Swopshire-8.8 ppg; Alex Olah-7.2 ppg; Tre Demps-5.6 ppg.

Top Rebounders: Swopshire-6.0 rpg; Hearn-5.5 rpg; Olah-4.5 rpg;

Notable non-conference wins: TCU, Baylor, Illinois State

Notable non-conference losses: Maryland, Butler, Stanford


The biggest question for Northwestern is can they break the curse this year. Since the NCAA tournament started in 1939, they are the only team in a BCS conference to never have made a tournament appearance. They have also not won the Big Ten conference since 1933.

And so as the drought continues, there bid this year to get into the NCAA tournament took a big hit. Drew Crawford, who was second on the team in scoring and was an NBA draft prospect, is out for the year with a torn labrum.

Sophomore point guard Dave Sobolewski and senior point guard Alex Marcotullio will now have to step up to take bigger roles in the offense.

The Wildcats will also rely on their revamped frontcourt consisting of Louisville transfer Jared Swopshire, TCU transfer Nikola Cerina and freshman Alex Olah.

Northwestern is one of the toughest teams to predict this season. With nice non-conference wins over Baylor and Illinois State, the Wildcats have set themselves up nicely to start the Big Ten season. Expect the Wildcats to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten. If they can make a run in the Big Ten tournament, they could make a strong case to make a bid for the NCAA tournament.


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