Pitino Bowl tips off NCAA hoops season for Gophers, Louisville


The long wait for the 2014-15 NCAA men's basketball season is finally over. The unranked Minnesota Golden Gophers take on the No. 8 Louisville Cardinals in the Armed Forces Classic in Puerto Rico tonight at 6:30 p.m.

The Gophers, led by head coach Richard Pitino, will begin his second season at Minnesota with a game against his father, Rick Pitino. Tonight's stage is an airplane hangar at a United States Coast Guard base in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; it will likely be brighter than the last stage the Gophers last played on – Madison Square Garden in the N.I.T. Championship Game.

Why brighter? It's father versus son and on ESPN.

If Minnesota pulls the upset, Richard will probably be satisfied to watch his father become a maniac.

“He’s a maniac after losses," Richard said of his father, according the Star Tribune.

Even though the spotlight will be on the father-son relationship, the elder Pitino says tonight's game isn't about them.

"I look down at the other end of the bench and I see him and I just have great pride in the fact that he's a Big Ten coach," Pitino said, via Fox Sports North. "But we both know that this is Minnesota vs. Louisville. It's not a father-son matchup."

Louisville's big gun is one of the most dangerous players in college basketball. 6-foot-8 junior forward Montrezl Harrell could have been a first-round draft pick last year, but he decided to return for another year. Here's how the Associated Press' preseason All-American team member is described at NCAA.com.

"An athletic, 6-foot-8, 240 pounds, Harrell was a handful for opposing teams last season, averaging 14 points and 8.4 rebounds while shooting 60 percent from the floor. After bypassing a shot at the NBA, he spent the offseason working on his midrange game, making him even tougher to stop."

Gophers forward Joey King will be charged with the task of defending Harrell.

But even with an All-American player and the No. 8 ranking in the country, Rick Pitino doesn't look at his team as a big favorite over Minnesota.

"Like Richard said, they're preparing to win; we're preparing to win," he said, according the Pioneer Press. "We know we could lose this game if we don't play well."

If the Gophers do win, Richard joked that he would "buy the whole island."

The game tips off at 6:30 p.m.

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