Minnesota Gophers Basketball Preview: Season Predictions

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Jordan Murphy
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Jordan Murphy /

The 2017-18 college basketball season for the Minnesota Gophers is upon us. In part five of our preview we make some predictions for this year’s Gopher team.

It is finally time to ring in the new college basketball year. For the 2017-18 Minnesota Gophers, expectations could not be any higher. With a bevvy of returning talent (which includes five starters) and solid youngsters, a deep NCAA tournament run is not out of the realm of possibility. With that being said, there are other predictions to make for this Minnesota squad. Here are just a few:

Prediction Number One: Isaiah Washington will make the All-Big Ten Freshman Team.

The Harlem point guard will serve a purposeful role for the Gophers this season. He will be the back-up to Nate Mason and a primary contributor off the Minnesota bench. In their second exhibition of the season against Wisconsin-Green Bay, Washington scored 24 points and had six assists. On top of those burly stats, the Gophers routed the Phoenix, 115-86.

Even as a freshman, Washington has shown he is capable to leading this team right now. However, Minnesota is already endowed with the great Mason. None the less, the former Mr. Basketball in New York has the potential for a great opening season. Richard Pitino will no doubt give him the playing time as well. Not only will he make the All-Big Ten Freshman Team, but he will also assume the title of best freshman point guard in the conference.

Prediction Number Two: Nate Mason and Amir Coffey make the All-Big Ten Team.

It would come as no surprise to see Mason on the All-Conference team, he is one of the two best players in the Big Ten. Coffey, on the other hand, has quietly catapulted himself into the discussion of best players in the conference. To be honest, both Mason and Coffey are at least two of the 10 best players in the league. Mason is by far the best point guard and Coffey warrants top two-guard status.

With those two already having played a season with one another, I think we will see leaps and bounds of improvement. It is somewhat hard to believe the notion of those two improving is even within the realm of possibility. However, it is not out of the question. When it comes down to it, I think both Mason and Coffey will garner All-Conference honors by the end of the coming campaign.

Prediction Number Three: Reggie Lynch will win his second straight Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

Whatever Lynch lacks on the offensive side, he more than makes up for on the defensive end. He reminds the casual observer of a Kenneth Faried type player minus the freakish rebounding ability. Naming Lynch the conference defensive player of the year was maybe the biggest no-brainer in Big Ten awards history. His ability to protect the paint and rim is unmatched by any player in the nation.

To say that Lynch will repeat as Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year is not a bold prediction by any means. However, it is a necessary prediction because his defensive ability in unlike anything I have really seen.

Prediction Number Four: Richard Pitino and the Gophers will finally defeat Wisconsin.

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It’s no secret that the Badgers have been Richard Pitino’s most challenging adversary. In his Minnesota tenure, now entering its fifth season, he has yet to defeat Wisconsin. Granted, Wisconsin has sported some complete buzzsaw teams in Pitino’s time as Gopher’s coach. Finally, it seems as though Minnesota has the more complete team in 2017-18.

Sure, the Badgers have their talent, like perennial All-Conference player Ethan Happ, but they are “down” compared to past years. The game will take place in Madison, but the Gophers have the edge. Perhaps Minnesota will finally make it over the Wisconsin hump.

Prediction Number Five: The Gophers will make it to at least the Elite Eight.

Minnesota has not made it past the Elite Eight since 1996-97 when the roster featured the great Bobby Jackson. Anyway, I firmly believe this team has the capability to make it to the Elite Eight and maybe even beyond. When you look at the entire body of work, and veteran presence, there are few teams like the Gophers. With “one and done” players being the flavor, teams need to re-institute chemistry and familiarity season to season. That is not the case with Minnesota, and I feel as though that will pay off in the long run.

Next: Comparing the Vikings and the Eagles!

I will not go so far as to say they will coast to the Final Four, but they have the ability. The journey to San Antonio has begun. Whether or not the Minnesota Gophers will be there is still to be determined.