Gophers slated to face Syracuse in first round of Maui Invitational
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Richard Pitino will face a major test early on in his first season at the helm of the Minnesota Gophers.
The 2013 Maui Invitational bracket was released on Wednesday, setting the Gophers up to face the Syracuse Orange for only the second time in program history.
The tournament, which runs from November 25-27 on the Hawaiian island of Maui, will also feature first round games between Arkansas and California, Chaminade and Baylor, and Dayton and Gonzaga.
One good note for Minnesota is that last and only time program faced Syracuse the Gophers won 82-75 to move on to the 1990 Sweet 16. But 23 years later, the Gophers are a team in a different spectrum than Syracuse. The Orange will be without Brandon Triche, James Southerland and Michael Carter-Williams, but that shouldn't make Jim Boeheim's squad much less formidable, especially with C.J. Fair at the forefront.
If Syracuse holds a place in the top-10 by late November like it is likely to do, the Gophers' match-up with the Orange would mark the fifth time in six years Minnesota faced a top-10 ranked team in an early season tournament (No. 5 Duke - 2012, No. 8 North Carolina - 2010, No. 10 Butler - 2009 and No. 9 Louisville - 2008).
Depending on the result against Syracuse, the Gophers face a potential second round meeting with either Cal or Arkansas.
As part of the Maui Invitational, the Gophers will host Costal Carolina, one of the four teams participating in the Mainland branch of the tournament, at Williams Arena on Nov. 19.
Arkansas vs California
Nov. 25, 2 p.m. CT
Gophers vs Syracuse
Nov. 25, 5:30 p.m.
Chaminade vs Baylor
Nov. 25, 9:30 p.m.
Dayton vs Gonzaga
Nov. 25, 12 a.m. CT