Rand: Gophers basketball conquers Evanston

  • Updated: February 17, 2014 - 12:08 AM

Here are five thoughts from the rare winter weekend without a regular-season game in the NBA or NHL:

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Pam Borton’s team has won four games in a row to even its Big Ten record at 6-6 with four games to go.

Photo: File photo by ELIZABETH FLORES • eflores@startribune.com,

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The Gophers men’s basketball team’s weekend trip to Evanston, Ill., to face Northwestern could end up having a huge bearing on its NCAA tournament prospects. But that wasn’t the only huge game in the Chicago suburb this weekend.

The Gophers women’s squad beat Northwestern 82-64 on Saturday. It was Pam Borton’s 300th career win and Minnesota’s fourth consecutive victory. Three of those wins have come on the road, and the team’s league record is now even at 6-6.

The Gophers were considered one of the “first four teams out” of the NCAA field by ESPN.com before the week started, but now a bid is theirs for the taking. Realtimerpi.com projects they will win three of their final four regular-season games, which would almost certainly be good enough for their first tourney berth since 2009.

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Mark Teixeira, who was limited to 15 games last season with a wrist injury, said over the weekend, “We’re back to being the Yankees again.”

He meant it in the context that the team has its swagger and health back after winning just 85 games and missing the postseason, but you could also read it as New York is back to trying to buy championships.

After promising financial restraint, the Yankees went out and signed Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran to deals worth a combined $438 million.

• • •

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he felt the Russian men’s hockey team was “a class higher” than the U.S. team after the Americans defeated the Russians in a shootout on Saturday. I wonder if he still felt the same way on Sunday, when Russia struggled to a shootout victory over the same Slovakia team the U.S. defeated 7-1 a few days ago.

• • •

Speaking of Team USA, Deadspin.com found a fun interview with shootout hero T.J. Oshie from an appearance in the announcing booth during a North Dakota game in 2010. He was already in the NHL with the Blues by then, but it was the Olympic break and he was back visiting his old college. Obviously he’s not doing the same this year.

• • •

Even as we’ve grown accustomed to hearing about post-career problems for several athletes, particularly NFL players, the Friday news of ex-Viking Darren Sharper being charged in Los Angeles with drugging and raping two women was completely jarring. He also has pending rape investigations in three other states. Shocking and terrible, all around.

MICHAEL RAND

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