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Gophers to begin non-conference basketball schedule at home

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The Gopher men's basketball team will play eight non-conference home games to go with neutral site games in Puerto Rico and South Dakota as part of its 2015-16 basketball schedule.

Head coach Richard Pitino announced the Gophers' non-conference schedule Monday, meaning the full 2015-16 basketball schedule has now been set.

"We believe that this year's non-conference schedule will be an excellent test for our young team," Pitino said in a statement Monday. "In putting together the schedule, we wanted to ensure quality competition in order to prepare the team for the rigors of Big Ten play, while also providing a chance for our team to grow and improve."

The season officially tips off Friday, Nov. 13 when the Gophers host Missouri-Kansas City at Williams Arena. Two days later Minnesota will match up with Louisiana-Monroe.

Following their two home games the Gophers head for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, where they will play three games in four days starting with the Temple Owls on Nov. 19. The Gophers will also play on Friday night and again on Sunday in San Juan.

The Pioneer Press notes the toughest stretch may come just after Thanksgiving as Minnesota opens a four-game homestand against Nebraska-Omaha on Nov. 27 and Clemson on Nov. 30 as part of the 2015 Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Minnesota will then will bring in both South Dakota and South Dakota State in early December.

They will then make a trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where they will play Oklahoma State at the Sanford Pentagon on Dec. 12.

The Gophers return to 'The Barn' to close the non-conference schedule against Chicago State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The Gophers' Big Ten Schedule was announced last week. They open conference play at Ohio State and play three of their first five conference games on the road.

Pitino has big expectations for the Gophers this year.

Minnesota was 18-14 last season and failed to qualify for either the NCAA or NIT tournaments.

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