Gophers look to prove themselves in Big Ten

Minnesota hosts Michigan State in conference opener

MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Golden Gophers have been here before.

They've steamrolled through cushy non-conference schedules to crack the AP Top 25 and raise some optimism for the season. Then the Big Ten comes along and roughs them up.

This year, they say they're different. Well, they're about to find out.

The 11th-ranked Gophers host No. 19 Michigan State in the Big Ten opener Monday, with a chance to set a new tone.

The Gophers have had just two winning records in conference play in the last 15 years.

But with Trevor Mbakwe healthy, Andre Hollins emerging as a top-flight point guard, and more depth than Tubby Smith has ever had at Minnesota, the Gophers are brimming with confidence.

Senior Rodney Williams says "we have a lot to prove."

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