Feb 10, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Gophers guard Andre Hollins (1) looks to pass while guarded by Illinois Fighting Illini guard Brandon Paul (3) in the second half at Williams Arena. The Illini defeated the Gophers 57-53. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Gophers to face Illinois in Big Ten Tournament opener

Feb 10, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Nnanna Egwu (32) brings down a rebound shadowed by Minnesota Gophers center Elliott Eliason (55) in the second half at Williams Arena. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

The 20-win Gophers will open the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday against a familiar foe in the Fighting Illini.

Illinois (21-11, 8-10) is coming off losses to Iowa and No. 14 Ohio State but will be the eighth seed in the tournament while Minnesota is seeded ninth.

The teams will face each other at 11 a.m. Thursday at the United Center in Chicago.

Minnesota and Illinois have played each other two times this season with each team winning a game on the other’s home court.

The Gophers beat the Fighting Illini 84-67 at Assembly Hall on Jan. 9. Joe Coleman had 29 points in that victory.

But on Feb. 10, Illinois beat the Gophers at Williams Arena 57-53 as Minnesota played without an injured Rodney Williams.

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Tags: Basketball Gophers Minnesota Minnesota Golden Gophers Rodney Williams Trevor Mbakwe Tubby Smith

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