Rand's Minnesota Sweet 16: Upsets? Stuff of champs counts

  • Updated: April 15, 2014 - 6:29 AM

Defensive end Carl Eller led the victorious Vikings through a crowd of happy fans after they beat the Rams for the NFC championship in 1976.

Photo: Associated Press file,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Here’s a brief recap of Monday’s introduction: This is the “Sweet 16” of what I determined to be the 16 greatest single-season teams in Minnesota sports history. I limited my prospective candidates to teams that play at the highest possible level of college or professional sports.

There were 16 numbers chosen at random for the 16 teams. The team assigned No. 1 “plays” the team assigned No. 16, No. 2 plays No. 15 and so on. I set these up at random instead of truly “seeding” the teams because, well, this would be pretty boring and predictable if I seeded them according to their strength. And away we go with the first eight matchups:


No. 16 (1976 Vikings) vs. No. 1 (2006 Twins): Winner — 1976 Vikings. A No. 16 seed takes down a No. 1 right away! Take that, NCAA tourney. OK, the seedings were done at random so this isn’t really an upset. The 1976 Vikings made the last of four Super Bowl appearances — enough to take down a 96-win Twins team that had the Cy Young Award winner, MVP and batting champ.

No. 15 (1991 Twins) vs. No. 2 (1998 Vikings): Winner — 1991 Twins. Talk about a tough first-round matchup. One of the most dominant regular-season teams in NFL history against the worst-to-first World Series champs. The champs take it.

No. 14 (1950 Minneapolis Lakers) vs. No. 3 (1969 Vikings): Winner — 1950 Lakers. The Lakers dominated the early NBA, and the 1950 championship squad (51-17 in the regular season and 11-2 in the playoffs) might have been the best of the bunch.

No. 13 (1990-91 North Stars) vs. No. 4 (2012-13 Gophers women’s hockey): Winner — 2012-13 Gophers. The North Stars had a great playoff run, but the Gophers were undefeated national champs. Enough said.

No. 12 (1987 Twins) vs. No. 5 (2001-02 Gophers men’s hockey): Winner — 1987 Twins. Oh, man. Another brutal matchup. But the first World Series champ beats out the first NCAA men’s hockey title in 23 years, even though both had plenty of drama.

No. 11 (2011 Lynx) vs. No. 6 (2003-04 Gophers women’s basketball): Winner — 2003-04 Gophers. Another agonizing decision. At the end of the day, my feeling was that the Gophers captured more imaginations than the Lynx, even though the Gophers’ Final Four run ended short of a title.

No. 10 (1965 Twins) vs. No. 7 (1940 Gophers football): Winner — 1940 Gophers. These were the glory days of Gophers football, and an undefeated season (8-0) that included huge one-point wins over Northwestern and Michigan added up to a national title. That’s enough to trump the Twins.

No. 9 (1996-97 Gophers men’s basketball) vs. No. 8 (2003-04 Timberwolves): Winner — 2003-04 Wolves. These were very similar seasons, but the tie goes to the one still on the record books.

Coming Wednesday: The Elite 8 features some great matchups, and we’ll expand our comments on a lot of seasons.



  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Minnesota 94 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Houston 93 FINAL
Boston 87
Portland 99 FINAL
Atlanta 105
Sacramento 90 FINAL
Cleveland 101
Toronto 127 FINAL
Brooklyn 122
Dallas 93 FINAL
Miami 72
LA Clippers 103 FINAL
New Orleans 108
Golden State 100 FINAL
Utah 110
Chicago 93 FINAL
Phoenix 99
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Nashville 0 FINAL
Colorado 3
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Vancouver 5
Chicago 4 FINAL
Anaheim 1
Harvard 75 FINAL
Princeton 72
Quinnipiac 57 FINAL
Canisius 63
Brown 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Siena 79 FINAL
Manhattan 87
Marist 65 FINAL
Niagara 61
Dartmouth 51 FINAL
Penn 58
Oregon 68 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Yale 63 FINAL
Columbia 59
Monmouth 60 FINAL
Fairfield 59
Western Ill 63
Oregon State 34 FINAL
Arizona 57
Kent State 55 FINAL
Buffalo 80
Canisius 75 FINAL
Monmouth 58
Butler 67 FINAL
Providence 59
Cornell 65 FINAL
Brown 52
Columbia 47 FINAL
Yale 55
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
Drexel 64
Penn 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 39
Elon 60 FINAL
James Madison 89
(19) Princeton 96 FINAL
Harvard 46
(9) Florida State 82 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Siena 62
Richmond 54 FINAL
Rhode Island 50
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Southern Ill 64
Georgetown 52 FINAL
DePaul 93
Villanova 75 FINAL
Marquette 59
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
Xavier 65 FINAL
Creighton 74
Bradley 58 FINAL
Illinois State 55
Missouri State 89 FINAL
Drake 94
Arizona 48 FINAL
Utah 62
(11) Arizona State 68 FINAL
Colorado 60


question of the day

Poll: How should Timberwolves fans greet Kevin Love on Saturday?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters