This was in January of 2012, mind you -- when the Wild had cooled off but was still among the top 8 teams, when the Wolves were showing the flashes of promise as a young team on the rise, and the Twins, though coming off one 90-loss season, still had the potential to show it was just a one-year fluke. The Vikings, meanwhile, were coming off a 3-13 season and looked to be in the midst of a long and arduous rebuild. So we had the percentages like this in terms of which would be the next to make the playoffs:
Wild: 40 percent
Wolves: 35 percent
Twins: 13 percent
Vikings: 12 percent
And, of course, we were very wrong. The Vikings ended up being the next to make the playoffs, even though their season was the most distant and they were coming off an awful season. It goes to show how much the Wild/Wolves flopped in the second half of last season as well as how unexpected the Vikings' playoff berth really was.
If we were to reset things as of March 11 to predict the NEXT team to make the playoffs, well, it's fairly cut and dried:
WILD: 60 percent. The squad moved into a tie for the division lead last night with a 4-2 victory over Vancouver. Unlike last year's squad, which faded, this one only seems to be getting better as a mix of free agents, holdovers and rookies learn to play together.
VIKINGS: 25 percent. If the Wild doesn't make it this year, the Vikings are the next most likely. Sure they could take a step back from their 10-6 season, but they could also ascend.
WOLVES: 10 percent. It's not happening this year. Next year? All depends on health and what happens in the offseason.
TWINS: 5 percent. We can sense far more optimism about this year's team than last year's, but overall it still feels like a bridge year where a .500 record would be a nice accomplishment in an improving division. By the time they might be ready to contend again in 2014, someone else will almost certainly have made the playoffs.
Your thoughts, please, in the comments.