Friday, December 18, 2009

2010 Schedules: Illinois & Minnesota

Illinois and Minnesota have both made their 2010 schedules known to the public. The Illini issued a press release back on December 8 and Minnesota revealed their 2010 docket on December 5.

Coach Dan Hartleb's side has put together an interesting non-conference schedule. Arguably the most interesting bit of all comes right at the beginning. The Illini are scheduled to open the season at home -- on February 20 -- against Bradley. The Braves, an appropriate name for a team play in Champaign in February, will also be at Illini Field on the 21st. Two home dates in late February? At minimum, here's hoping the sun is out those afternoons.

Another date that caught my eye was the annual affair versus Missouri. No, not just because the Tigers are rumored to be on the list of potential new members of the Big Ten, but because of the location of the contest. Illinois and Missouri will be playing at the (relatively) new Busch Stadium in St. Louis on April 7.

Other non-con games of note include: single games (at) East Carolina, (vs.) West Carolina and two at Coastal Carolina. Of course, there's the Big East/Big Ten Challenge opposition (Notre Dame, South Florida and St. John's) and a six game spell in Winter Haven, Florida.

The conference schedule has Illinois opening at home versus Penn State. Michigan, Northwestern and Purdue will also be visiting Champaign-Urbana. The Big Ten road series are at Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana.

The first noteworthy item on Minnesota's docket is that the Gophers will be playing their entire home schedule at the Metrodome. Other than all but eliminating weather related cancellations (hey, it's not like domes haven't sprung a leak before), one wonders what effect playing the entire year inside will have on Coach John Anderson's side?

By playing all their games off-campus in 2010, I'm presuming that the rumors are true -- a renovated or brand new on-campus facility is (finally) being built. I certainly don't see any mention of either on Minnesota's baseball page, but why else would they spend the entire season at the Metrodome?

The Gophers will open 2010 in Florida with a three-game set versus Akron. Then, it's the Big East/Big Ten Challenge with Louisville, Connecticut and St. John's providing the opposition. The U will spend the next few weeks back in the dome. The Dairy Queen Classic will feature Loyola Marymount, Oklahoma State and Northwestern. (Okay, this year's DQC lacks some of the sizzle of years past.)

Harvard, Creighton and South Dakota State will be in the Twin Cities to play in the Metrodome Tournament the following weekend. Then, it's off to Alabama for two games at the Crimson Tide and four at Samford. There are other games on the non-conference schedule, but only two more merit mention here.

Louisiana Tech will play three at Minnesota including one game at Target Field on March 27. It's the lone home date not in the Metrodome for the Gophers. Wait a minute. Target Field isn't covered, is it? (A quick look at the web cam says "Absolutely not".) I hope the LTU folks buy some gloves at the airport. Finally, in early May, the Gophers will venture to Kansas State and play two versus the Wildcats in Manhattan.

The U will open their Big Ten campaign at Purdue and will also be on the road versus Northwestern, Iowa and Ohio State. Michigan State, Indiana, Michigan and Penn State will all get to play in the Metrodome in 2010.

Fans of both programs should like their schedule for the upcoming season. There are some fun (and important) home dates and more than enough quality opposition to give either team NCAA at-large consideration, if they can navigate the schedule properly.

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