Gophers release schedules for two sports

A national network TV audience will watch the Gophers face an SEC foe at Williams Arena, while the two-time defending champion men's hockey squad opens their season in … Nebraska?

CBS executives will put all-America candidate Lindsay Whalen in the national spotlight on Jan. 3 when the Gophers host South Carolina in a 3 p.m. start at the Barn. The game will be a good test run for Williams Arena staff, who will have to deal with TV crews during the first two rounds of the women's NCAA tournament March 21-23.

The Gophers will play in three tournaments this year leading up to the Big Ten season. They'll host their own Subway Classic Nov. 22-23, featuring Southern University, Colorado and Harvard. One week later they travel to the Bahamas for the Junkanoo Jam, where they'll play Texas A&M and either Seton Hall or Southern Cal. And they'll play in Virginia's post-Christmas tourney, where they'll face Georgia State in the first round, then either the host school or Temple.

Big Ten action starts on New Year's Day, when the Gophers host Michigan in a 7 p.m. tilt. The Big Ten Tournament will be played March 4-8 in Indianapolis.

Meanwhile, Don Lucia and his two-time defending national champions will begin defense of their titles in Omaha, Neb., on Oct. 10-11, in the Maverick Stampede. They'll open against Maine in a rematch of the 2002 NCAA Championship game, while Wisconsin faces Nebraska-Omaha in the debut of UNO's 14,700-seat Qwest Center Omaha.

WCHA play begins two weeks later, and the Gophers open at home with series against UMD and Denver. Back-to-back trips to Grand Forks and Madison highlight the November schedule, while the College Hockey Showcase is back in the CCHA schools' homes after Thanksgiving, where the Gophers will take on Michigan State first, then Michigan.

The Dodge Classic will be played at Mariucci Arena on Dec. 26-27, with NCAA runner-up New Hampshire playing Miami of Ohio and the Gophers taking on Princeton in the first round.

The unbalanced WCHA schedule leaves the Gophers without visits from Colorado College or Minnesota State-Mankato, but spares the Gophers trips to St. Cloud and Michigan Tech.

The WCHA Final Five will be back at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on March 18-20.

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