MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The University of Minnesota men’s basketball team is ranked among college basketball’s top 25 teams to start the 2017-18 season, according to both media and the league’s coaches.
The Gophers were slotted No. 15 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls released Wednesday, the first of the season. Minnesota is ranked in the AP preseason poll for the first time since 2010, when it was No. 25 to start the year. It’s also the Gophers’ highest ranking since 1994, when they were ranked No. 10 to start the year.
The Gophers are second among Big Ten teams in the rankings, with Michigan State being ranked No. 2 overall. Other Big Ten teams in the AP top 25 include Northwestern at No. 19 and Purdue at No. 20.
Minnesota is coming off a 24-10 season and its first NCAA Tournament appearance under head coach Richard Pitino. The Gophers finished fourth in the Big Ten with an 11-7 record. They return all five starters from last year, and add freshman guards Isaiah Washington and Jamir Harris. Transfer Davonte Fitzgerald is also expected to contribute after missing all of last year with a knee injury. He’ll be expected to make significant contributions with sophomore forward Eric Curry out for the season with a knee injury.
The Gophers will be led by Nate Mason, a First Team All-Big Ten point guard last year, All-Big Ten third team forward Jordan Murphy and Defensive Player of the Year Reggie Lynch. They all return local star Amir Coffey, who made the All-Big Ten Freshman team last season.
Minnesota hosts Concordia-St. Paul in an exhibition Thursday night and another exhibition Sunday afternoon against UW-Green Bay in a Hurricane relief game to benefit Puerto Rico. The regular season opens Friday, Nov. 10, against USC Upstate at Williams Arena.