Ben Johnson's second season as Gophers men's basketball coach will start off with a much more home-friendly schedule than last year.
The Gophers released their nonconference slate Wednesday with eight regular season games scheduled at Williams Arena in November and December, the most since the program played nine non-league games at the Barn in 2017-18.
Gophers hoops fans will get to see their 2022-23 men's squad play four straight home games to open the regular season, starting Nov. 7 against Western Michigan. That's followed by St. Francis on Nov. 11, DePaul in the Gavitt Games on Nov. 14, and Central Michigan on Nov. 18.
That's a substantial change from a year ago when Johnson's inaugural season opened with just three home games in the first month of the season.
Road warriors best described the Gophers early in Johnson's first year with a 4-0 record away from home in November and early December, including winning the Asheville Championship in North Carolina and back-to-back games at Pitt and Mississippi State.
This season, the Gophers' first road trip will be to San Juan Capistrano, Calif. before Thanksgiving. They'll open the SoCal Challenge with Cal Baptist on Nov. 21. The second matchup will be against the winner or loser of UNLV vs. Southern Illinois on Nov. 23.
Closing out the month will be a third straight game away from home for the Gophers in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Virginia Tech on Nov. 28.
The U's two early December Big Ten games have yet to be announced, but the nonconference concludes with another four-game homestand. The rescheduled home game with Mississippi State is Dec. 11, followed by matchups with Arkansas Pine Bluff on Dec. 14, Chicago State on Dec. 22, and Alcorn State on Dec. 29. Last year's Alcorn State game was canceled due to COVID-19.
In the Nov. 2 exhibition game, the Gophers host St. Olaf with two old friends and colleagues reuniting on the sidelines.
Gophers assistant Dave Thorson and St. Olaf coach Dave "Koz" Kosmoski were both on Clem Haskins' Minnesota's staff from 1990-94. Kosmoski also played and coached under ex-Gophers coach Jim Dutcher.