The Big 10 Preview rolls into Day 3. How bad was last year’s Minnesota team? Dan Monson “resigned” after just seven games. We challenge anyone to find a coach fired in a shorter amount of time. In comes Tubby Smith fresh off getting shoved out the door at his old job too (By the way, what the hell is he doing in this picture, "hailing" to Minnesota? Nice try, Tubby.).

2006-07 Record: 9-22 (3-14)
Projected Finish: 9th
Returning Starters: 5
Head Coach: Tubby Smith
Best Player: Lawrence McKenzie (14.9 PPG)

5 Reasons for Optimism:

1) Tubby has been to 14 straight NCAA Tournaments. That streak will certainly come to an end this year, but the guy knows how to get into the Big Dance - that's for sure.

2) Flip Saunders’ son, Ryan, is a senior walk-on. Gopher players rave about how Ryan’s like having another crappy coach on the floor. Unfortunately, he's only scored 5 points in his whole career.

3) On Dec. 3, the Gophers get a chance to avenge their football loss to North Dakota State. Payback’s a bitch, Bison!

4) Unlike Northwestern, it’s been proven you can win at Minnesota. Clem Haskins led Bobby Jackson and Co. to the Final Four just 10 years ago. Of course, he was cheating the whole time – so there is that.

5) If freshman Blake Hoffarber can perfect this infamous YouTube shot, Minnesota will be entertaining if nothing else.

5 Reasons for Pessimism:

1) Their record doesn't reflect how horrible the Gophers were last season. The nonconference slate included losses to Marist, Montana, UAB and Arkansas-Little Rock...

2) And aside from the game in Ann Arbor, every single loss in the Big 10 was by double digits.

3) As the team point guard, McKenzie had more turnovers than assists. Even Dion Harris didn’t accomplish that.

4) The Gophers were just 1-14 away from Williams Arena last year and there should be an asterisk by that because Welsh-Ryan Arena is really a second home for everyone in the Big 10.

5) They lost to Tommy Amaker three times in one year – the horror!

After essentially getting fired in Lexington, Tubby must have been laughing his ass off downing Ho Hos on his couch while watching Gardner-Webb defeat Kentucky. Looking at Tubby’s UK numbers, it’s easy to defend him. But the fact is, the Wildcats are nowhere near the program they were when he took over.

Why Minnesota? Who knows. We’re still trying to figure out why Herb Sendek went to Arizona State. There certainly won’t be any pressure in Minneapolis, which is a welcome change. If Tubby actually spent some time recruiting, he could have Minnesota back to national prominence within five years. Getting Ralph Sampson III is a pretty good start.

As for this year: The Gophers should be much more competitive with Tubby’s rigorous defense. Unfortunately, Tubby’s teams have also never been able to score in the half court. The Gophers averaged just 61 PPG last year to start with. Expect a lot of slugfests this season and one surprising win over the Big 10 elite.

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