For middle-of-the-pack programs like Minnesota, the Big Ten schedule is always daunting. Well, the Gophers have rarely seen a stretch like the one they’re about to begin. Four Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 20, including three in the top five, of the Associated Press poll. Those four teams also happen to be Minnesota’s next four opponents. The Gophers play at No. 5 Michigan State on Saturday. They host No. 3 Ohio State next Thursday. They travel to No. 20 Iowa for a game on Jan. 19. They have No. 4 Wisconsin visiting on Jan. 22.
Five members or former members of the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team will be heading to Sochi in Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Among those who were named to the team was forward Amanda Kessel, who was named NCAA player of the year.
The Gopher basketball team opens the Big 10 Thursday against Michigan. One of the bright spots thus far has been point guard Deandre Mathieu. He came with Coach Richard Pitino from Florida International University. So far, he’s been better than most expected.
To Andre Hollins, every game is a matchup against a top-tier opponent. Andre Hollins scored 18 points and Austin Hollins added 13 as Minnesota finished non-conference play with a 65-44 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday night. Even though it was a ragged win over an obscure smaller school, Andre Hollins said it was another step in preparation for the spotlight of Big Ten play. “I come out every day like Texas Corpus Christi is Michigan St. That’s the mentality you need,” he said.
Southern Illinois defensive coordinator Kyle “Bubba” Schweigert has been named new head football coach at the University of North Dakota. Schweigert is returning to Grand Forks after a decade away from the program. He was the defensive coordinator that helped UND win the 2001 NCAA Division II national title.
Minnesota senior Austin Hollins has been named the Big Ten Player of the Week for men’s basketball. The award was announced by the conference on Monday. Hollins crossed the 1,000-point mark for his career last week in leading the Gophers to a 75-59 victory over South Dakota State. He posted his third double-double, with 20 points and 14 rebounds in 30 minutes. The small forward is averaging 13.8 points and 7.4 rebounds over 11 games. He’s seventh in the Big Ten in rebounds.
Andre Hollins led six Golden Gophers in double figures with 18 points as Minnesota defeated New Orleans 80-65 on Saturday afternoon. Center Mo Walker, making his first start of the season, scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Minnesota (8-2). Cory Dixon led the Privateers with 16 points, while Matt Derenbecker added 14 points and eight boards. The Gophers were coming off their most impressive victory of the season, a 10-point win over Florida State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Tuesday. But hoping to avoid a letdown against the lightly regarded Privateers (1-4), Minnesota coach Richard Pitino had his team on a short leash early.
Jeremy Langford ran for 134 yards and a touchdown, and No. 11 Michigan State wrapped up an unbeaten regular season in Big Ten play with a 14-3 victory over Minnesota on Saturday. The Spartans (11-1, 8-0) finished a perfect Big Ten regular season for only the third time.
The Michigan State-Ohio State matchup in the Big Ten championship game already is set, and the Buckeyes are two-touchdown favorites against rival Michigan on Saturday. The real drama in the Big Ten this week might be in the three trophy games — Iowa at Nebraska, Northwestern at Illinois and Purdue at Indiana.
Alec Brown had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks on Saturday night to lead Green Bay in a dominating effort against Minnesota-Duluth 92-57. Green Bay (2-1) coach Brian Wardle subbed Brown out late in the game when he was just shy of the triple-double with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 9 blocks. But Kenneth Lowe fouled out and Brown returned to the game to get the block and rebound. It was the first triple-double by a Phoenix player since Javier Mendiburu on Feb. 5, 2005. Keifer Sykes shot 8 of 9 from the field and 5 of 5 from the line to finish with a game-high 21 points. Vincent Garrett added 15 and Carrington Love had career-high 13 points.
More than 53,000 fans filled TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for the coldest game of the season. Temperatures were in the teens, but it felt like five degrees outside thanks to the wind chill. Folks tailgating before the game set up tents, propane tanks and heat lamps to help stay warm, along with lots of hot food. No matter the conditions, Gopher and Badger fans didn’t let Mother Nature take away from the biggest border battle of the season.
James White rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown and No. 16 Wisconsin beat Minnesota for the 10th straight time in a 20-7 victory on Saturday. Jared Abbrederis had seven catches for 67 yards and a touchdown and Chris Borland recovered two fumbles and forced one to tie the NCAA record for career fumbles caused. After the game, the Badgers (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) hoisted Paul Bunyan’s Axe and used it to chop the Gophers goal post when the time ran out.
Minnesota is playing meaningful Big Ten games in November. Wisconsin visits Saturday in a rivalry game that might have wider implications than reclaiming Paul Bunyan’s Axe. A visit to Michigan State looms next week, though coach Jerry Kill isn’t looking behind the Badgers.
The University of North Dakota has fired head football coach Chris Mussman after a 3-8 season, including a 2-6 mark in the Big Sky Conference. UND athletic director Brian Faison says the two met Monday and Mussman was relieved of his duties immediately. Mussman coached six seasons with UND and had an overall 31-34 record. He joined the coaching staff as the offensive line coach in 1999, became offensive coordinator in 2001 and took over as the head coach prior to the 2008 season.
Behind 26 points from junior guard Andre Hollins, Minnesota defeated Richmond 74-59 on the road in the refurbished Robins Center Saturday night. The Golden Gophers (3-0) avoided being upset in their only nonconference road game of the season. Austin Hollins and Malik Smith scored 11 points apiece on a night where neither team shot very well. Both teams shot under 40% from the field and 70% from the line. Senior Cedrick Lindsay paced the Spiders (2-1) with 15 points on 5 of 16 from the field. Deion Taylor scored 11 points and Terry Allen ripped down 12 rebounds for the home team.