MINNEAPOLIS If anyone is champing at the bit for Big Ten play to start, it's Minnesota's Trevor Mbakwe.
The Gophers senior forward missed the entire conference season last year after tearing his ACL in a game against Dayton last November. That means his last Big Ten game was on March 10, 2011 -- nearly two years ago.
"Has it been that long?" Mbakwe said Saturday, one day shy of the one-year anniversary of his knee surgery. "I'm definitely looking forward to it. . . . It's a chance for us to really set the tone and set a statement and show everybody we're serious this year. We're up for the challenge."
And the Big Ten schedule will no doubt be a challenge. As of this weekend, the conference boasted six teams in the AP top 25, including the No. 11 Gophers. Minnesota's first Big Ten opponent, Michigan State, is ranked No. 19. By the time that game comes Monday afternoon, there's a good chance four of the top 10 teams will be from ...