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Unofficial preseason polls put Gopher five near the cellar

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Even with a weak recruiting class and the departure of two cornerstone players, there's still an air of excitement about the Richard Pitino era surrounding Gopher basketball.

That feeling, however, doesn't extend too far from Williams Arena.

An unofficial poll Wednesday of the Big Ten basketball beat writers puts the University of Minnesota ninth out of the 12 teams.

Considering the known knowns - Andre and Austin Hollins - and all the known unknowns - pretty much everyone else - maybe that's not so bad.

Amelia Rayno of the Star Tribune notes that Thursday is when the official coaches poll comes out, but that the 24 beat writers (two for each team) always jump the gun, and that Michigan State was a unanimous first-place vote. And that someone picked the Gophers fifth.

Northwestern, Penn State and Nebraska bring up the rear.

In addition to that fifth-place vote, Gophers Now notes that the U had nine votes for ninth place, six votes for 10th place, four votes for 11th place and four votes for 12th place in the league.

The Big Ten Network went to one beat writer from each team to get the all-Big Ten players in predicted fashion. Andre Hollins made the third team.

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