The Minnesota Golden Gophers certainly aren't facing the most difficult competition, at least on paper, during the early non-conference schedule. They played Bucknell and South Dakota State to open the season and will now look to begin the season with three straight victories as they host the Fairfield Stags on Thursday night.
Fairfield, a team from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, won its season-opener against Quinnipiac before falling to Providence College by eight points on Monday night. Fairfield has just three players on its roster taller than 6-foot-5, meaning they might struggle to match-up against the taller Gophers.
The Gophers have been led by Ralph Sampson III and Trevor Mbakwe this season. The two inside players scored 17 and 10 points in Minnesota's victory over the Jackrabbits, using length to their advantage as they combined for 13 rebounds and five blocks. They should be able to do something similar against the shorter Stags as well.
The only player over 6-foot-5 to play meaningful minutes thus far this season for Fairfield is 7-footer Ryan Olander. The senior is averaging 14.5 points and 5.5 rebounds through two games. The Stags are led by their backcourt players, however, as wings Rakim Sanders and Maurice Barrow are averaging nearly 38 points per game through the first two games of the season.
Following their game against Fairfield, the Gophers have scheduled one more tune-up game before a pair of match-ups scheduled to be played on national television. Minnesota will play Mount St. Mary's next Monday before games against DePaul and Virginia Tech, both of which will be broadcast on ESPN 2.