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Minnesota will try to take them 1 at a time, but this is a brutal 4-game stretch in Big Ten

  • 34c661a1454d6401480f6a706700c432.jpg

    Minnesota coach Richard Pitino watches his players against Penn State during an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, in State College, Pa. Minnesota won 68-65. (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Abby Drey) MANDATORY CREDIT MAGS OUT (The Associated Press)

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    Minnesota's Austin Hollins passes the ball to teammate DeAndre Mathieu over Penn State's Tim Frazier during an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, in State College, Pa. (AP Photo/Centre Daily Times, Abby Drey) MANDATORY CREDIT MAGS OUT (The Associated Press)

For middle-of-the-pack programs like Minnesota, the Big Ten schedule is always daunting.

Well, the Gophers have rarely seen a stretch like the one they're about to begin.

There are four Big Ten teams currently ranked in the top 20 of the Associated Press poll. Those four teams also happen to be Minnesota's next four opponents.

The Gophers play at No. 5 Michigan State on Saturday. They host No. 3 Ohio State next Thursday. They travel to No. 20 Iowa for a game on Jan. 19. They have No. 4 Wisconsin visiting on Jan. 22.

The last time Minnesota faced four straight conference foes ranked in the AP poll was 1996.