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


Washington 0
Pittsburgh 7 FINAL
Detroit 3
Miami 3 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Boston - WP: K. Couch 11 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: C. Reavis 8
NY Yankees - LP: M. Tanaka 1 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: T. Milone 3
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Baltimore 3
Philadelphia 6 FINAL
Toronto 10
Chicago Cubs 15 FINAL
Texas 10
Cincinnati - WP: M. Lorenzen 10 FINAL
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 4
Colorado 3 FINAL
San Francisco 4
Chicago WSox 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 1
Seattle 6 FINAL
Cleveland 8
Oakland - WP: J. Fuller 13 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: B. Loconsole 10
Texas 7 FINAL
Arizona 8
Houston 8 FINAL
Atlanta 5
Kansas City 4 FINAL
San Diego 1
Atlanta 95 FINAL
Detroit 105
Indiana 106 FINAL
Brooklyn 111
San Antonio 95 FINAL
Miami 81
Golden State 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 106
New Jersey 2 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 3
Carolina 2 FINAL
Washington 4
Florida 2 FINAL
Boston 3
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Detroit 1
Tampa Bay 1 FINAL
Toronto 3
NY Rangers 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 5 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
UT Martin 66 FINAL
Evansville 79
Miami-Florida 60 FINAL
Temple 57
Northern Ariz 68
Stanford 67 FINAL
Old Dominion 60


question of the day

Poll: Who are you rooting for in the NCAA Final Four?

Weekly Question





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