ESPN to broadcast four Gophers basketball games

Nickalas Tabbert

The national spotlight will be shining on the University of Minnesota men’s basketball team more this year.

The Big Ten conference announced the broadcasting schedule for the 2012 men’s basketball season this week, and the Gophers will appear at least four times on ESPN listings, one more than last season. All of the nationally televised games will be at Williams Arena.

ESPN2 will show the Gophers’ home opener against Michigan State on Dec. 31. ESPN or ESPN2 will show Minnesota’s home game against Michigan on Jan. 17.

In February, ESPN or ESPN2 will showcase a border-battle with Wisconsin.

There is a chance the Gophers could appear on national television more times throughout the year, depending on which networks carry games. For example, the March 2 or 3 game against Penn State could be broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 or the Big Ten Network.

The Gophers will be shown on the Big Ten Network throughout the season as well.

Ohio State and Indiana lead the conference with 10 nationally televised games. The Gophers’ four games rank above only Illinois, which has two.

At the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament in March, the Gophers could appear on any of the three networks, depending on how far they advance.

The Gophers finished with an overall record of 23-15 in their run to the National Invitation Tournament last season. Their 6-12 conference record was tied with Illinois for ninth-best in the Big Ten.