Basketball: Miami Hurricanes draw Minnesota in Big Ten-ACC Challenge

Jim Larranaga directs his team against Florida State. (Getty Images)

Jim Larranaga directs his team against Florida State in a 2016 game. (Getty Images)

[Related: Miami’s non-conference 2017-18 schedule released]

The Hurricanes drew a strong opponent in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge.

Miami will visit Minnesota in an intriguing matchup of two teams likely to be ranked in the preseason top 25, both expected to challenge for their respective conference crowns.

The date and time will be announced later.

For the Hurricanes, the game could be an important one for strength-of-schedule purposes. Minnesota (37th) becomes the second team on Miami’s non-conference schedule inside the top 100 of last year’s KenPom rankings. Princeton (58th) is the other. The Canes could also face Middle Tennessee (43rd) and USC (53rd) at the Diamond Head Classic tournament.

Minnesota coach Richard Pitino, son of part-time Miami resident Rick Pitino and a former FIU coach, returns six of his top seven scorers from a team that made the NCAA Tournament as a No. 5 seed. Pitino was named Big Ten coach of the year.

All-Big Ten guard Nate Mason (15.2 points, 5.0 assists per game), forward Jordan Murphy (11.3, 8.8 rebounds) and standout freshman wing Amir Coffey (12.2) lead the way, and 6-10 forward Reggie Lynch (3.5 blocks) was the conference’s defensive player of the year.

Like the Hurricanes, the Golden Gophers (24-10, 11-7 Big Ten) lost in the first round, falling to 12th-seeded Middle Tennessee State.

Miami (21-12, 10-8 ACC) returns six of its top eight scorers, including sophomore standouts Bruce Brown and Dewan Huell, senior point guard Ja’Quan Newton and numerous other quality depth players from a young team that reached the dance as an 8-seed.

A major reason for the preseason love coming the Canes’ way: they added a top-10 recruiting class led by guard Lonnie Walker, who like Brown is considered an NBA lottery pick-in-waiting. In addition to Walker, ranked 12th among 2017 recruits by ESPN, Miami added point guard Chris Lykes (45th) and forward Deng Gak (91st).

The Hurricanes were recently ranked 11th in one CBS Sports writer’s preseason poll, 12th by ESPN and 21st by Sporting News.

Minnesota, who added point guard Isaiah Washington (ESPN’s 66th-best recruit), was ranked 10th by Sporting News, 14th by CBS and 15th by ESPN.

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