Busting Brackets

Minnesota Basketball: 2017-18 season preview for the Golden Gophers

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 21: Akeem Springs /
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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The Gophers go into the season as favorite to potentially win the Big 10 (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The Gophers go into the season as favorite to potentially win the Big 10 (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

For the first time in a while, expectations are high for Minnesota basketball this season. What does the upcoming campaign look like for the Gophers?

The Minnesota Golden Gophers basketball team experienced one of the biggest year-to-year turnarounds last year. After going through a dreadful season the year before, the 2016-17 season brought many riches to coach Richard Pitino as well as all of the Gopher fans. Minnesota built their team with a lot of homegrown talent as well as key transfers and grad transfers.

Minnesota was also a fortunate team because they also experienced a big jump in their players’ development from their freshman to their sophomore years. There did not seem to be any sophomore slumps. Minnesota has also put themselves in great shape to be just as good this year, by keeping the talent and developing it.

Projected Starters for 2017-18:

Reggie Lynch

Lynch is one of the premier big men in the Big Ten. Lynch has a great post presence and is a load for opposing defenses in the low post. He can score, protect the rim, and rebound.  He was one of the biggest reasons for Minnesota’s turnaround last year. Lynch can lock down the paint without committing fouls. This talented big man will be a huge factor in the success of Minnesota this year as well. If Lynch is able to stay healthy, points against the Gophers this year could be as stingy as ever.

Amir Coffey

Coffey is a Minnesota native who stayed to play for the hometown school. Amir’s father Richard was a four-year member of the Minnesota basketball team and also had a long career in the NBA for the Timberwolves. Basketball is in Amir’s blood. A year removed from being one of the best freshmen in the Big Ten, Minnesota and coach Pitino are going to look to Coffey to lead this team in many ways. They are looking for a floor leader as well a player who can get clutch baskets when needed. The 6’8” wing is a player that with a good year could take off for the NBA next year. Coffey is a good one.

Jordan Murphy

Murphy is an explosive player who plays much bigger than his actual size. Murphy is a guy who can score at all three levels as well as protect the rim. At 6’6”, he is more suited to play the wing as opposed to the power forward. Even though Minnesota has a deep frontcourt, Jordan Murphy is a guy who teams are going to game plan for, along with Coffey. The duo of Murphy and Coffey could be one of the best one-two punches in all of the Big Ten.

Dupree McBrayer

McBrayer is a kid from New York who can really score. McBrayer started the majority of the games last year and averaged just over 11 points per game. McBrayer is a nice compliment to the rest of the team because he can score in bunches. McBrayer is also a guy who can score from inside and out and has that hard-nosed New York basketball mentality.

Nate Mason

This senior point guard is coming off a very good season and Minnesota is hoping that he comes close to replicating what he did last year. Nate Mason averaged 15.2 points per game last year and was one of the best free throw shooters in the conference at 80.8%. He also was fourth in the Big Ten in assists at 169. The hard part for opposing teams is that Mason drives the lane and gets fouled a lot.  He is a guy who can beat you by himself. Mason will be asked to provide the senior leadership on this team and show sophomore Amir Coffey how to lead for the future. Mason has quick hands as well and can rack up steals. If you are not careful, Mason can quietly have quite the night against you.