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Monday (Sustained mediocrity from Minnesota teams) edition: Wha' Happened?

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • March 17, 2014 - 9:50 AM

We wrote for today's Page 2 about the Gophers men's basketball team's habit of being on the perpetual NCAA tournament bubble during even their best seasons since that 1997 Final Four run. The numbers don't lie: they've sweated out many Selection Sundays since then, with eight total NIT bids, five NCAA bids (three as double-digit seeds) and just one NCAA tourney victory.

Really, the sentiment extends to so many of Minnesota's teams. With apologies to the dominant Lynx and Gophers women's hockey team, along with the contending-in-most-years Gophers men's hockey team, there are six teams in the Twin Cities that draw the most water: the Vikings, Twins, Wild, Wolves, Gophers men's basketball and Gophers football.

We've already addressed Gophers men's basketball. Gophers football speaks for itself, with slightly above average finishes in the Big Ten serving as the apex of accomplishment in the last 40 years. The Twins had a run of six division titles in nine seasons from 2002-10, but their postseason failures diminished how history views that era. The Vikings under Dennis Green had a similar run of eight playoff appearances in 10 years, with the apex from 1998-2000, but since then it has been peaks and valleys. Wolves? Seven straight playoff one-and-dones, followed by the trip to the West finals a decade ago, and then silence since then. The Wild? The surprise run in 2003, a couple of nice regular seasons, and now perhaps the building of a contender but so far a team hanging on the playoff fringes.

This whole market is starving for a big-six team that doesn't live on the perpetual bubble. We can't hazard a guess right now as to which of them -- if any -- will be the one to step up and become a true consistent contender, but if and when it happens that team will own this state.

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