Most Interesting Non-Conference Game: Siena

The Gophers non-conference schedule is stacked with teams that could pose an early season threat for an experienced Minnesota team. The most interesting matchup for the Gophers will be their game against the Siena on November, 15th at Williams Arena.

The Gophers face a very difficult test when the Saints of Siena come to town in early November. The Saints have been a very solid team over the past few years. In 2008-2009, Siena amassed a 27-8 record on their way to a first round tournament win over Ohio State.

Last season, the team had a record of 27 wins and seven losses which gave the Saints the MAAC regular season title as well as their third straight conference tournament title. Three of Siena's losses came against top tournament performers, Northern Iowa, Butler and Purdue.

Although the Saints lost their two top scorers, Alex Franklin and Edwin Ubiles, the team is bringing back experienced players who will be a handful for any team. Senior forward Ryan Rossiter is returning after an amazing 2010 campaign. The 6-foot-9, 234 pound Rossiter averaged a double-double on the season with 13.8 points per game to go with 11.1 rebounds.

Rossiter is a kid who reportedly gained more muscle mass this season and should be even more of presence in the post. Containing Rossiter will most likely fall on the shoulders of power forward Trevor Mbakwe.

Mbakwe and Rossiter have similar styles of play in that they both are beasts on the forwards and are active shot blockers. The matchup between Mbakwe and Rossiter will be a battle to watch on November, 15th.

The game against the Siena Saints will be one of the most trying games of the non-conference schedule. Looking at last year's team statistics for both squads add more intrigue for the game.

Last season, Siena led the MAAC with 75.5 points per game while the Gophers were second in the Big Ten with 73.3. Both teams also lead their conferences in steals per game, the Gophers with 8.0 steals per game and the Saints with 8.8.

It will be an interesting matchup that will pit defensively strong teams against high powered offenses who can run up the score. If the Gophers can come away with a win, it will be an early confidence boost that could set the tone for the rest of the season.

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