Rand: A crucial week for local teams

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 3, 2014 - 6:45 AM
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Ricky Rubio, left, got his backcourt mate, Kevin Martin, back on Saturday night, and the veteran immediately produced, scoring 26 points, including 19 in the first quarter as the Wolves beat Sacramento on the road.

Photo: Rich Pedroncelli • Associated Press,

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Four weekend sports thoughts while frantically checking and confirming that the average temperatures in March really are supposed to be much better than this:

1 Before the Wolves embarked on their recent five-game road trip, I asked guard J.J. Barea if there was any chance the team could get on a late-season hot streak and make at least a spirited run at a playoff berth. “There’s always that possibility,” Barea said at the time. “It’s going to be tough right now. We have a couple of guys hurt, and we’re not in that good rhythm yet. … This road trip is going to be big.”

Barea was of the mind that if the Wolves could win four of five games on the trip, they might have a chance to sustain some real momentum. Four games into the trip, Minnesota is 3-1. Two of those injured players — Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin — returned in a victory against Sacramento on Saturday and contributed immediately.

The chance to hit Barea’s benchmark comes Monday at Denver; after that, the Wolves have six consecutive winnable games, with five of them at Target Center. Eighth-seeded Phoenix, meanwhile, has a batch of tough games coming up. It’s still a long shot, but ESPN.com puts the Wolves’ playoff odds at better than 30 percent right now, which is much better than at the start of the road trip.

 

2 There might be a temptation to stick a much-needed ‘W’ in the Gophers column before they play their regular-season finale next Sunday against Penn State at Williams Arena, but that would be a mistake.

Sure, the Lions are languishing near the bottom of the conference, but there are no sure things in the Big Ten this season — and Penn State is 5-5 since starting the league year 0-6. Included in that span are road wins at Indiana and Ohio State. Minnesota desperately needs to win that finale, but the Gophers will also have to earn it.

 

3 We should be much less worried about the Wild. This late in the year, with Minnesota’s ability to squeeze out points like it did against Vancouver on Friday, its current solid standing will hold.

 

4 When reading about Adam Muema — the former San Diego State running back who left the NFL scouting combine for religious reasons and then spent three days at an airport before being found recently — it’s hard not to have flashbacks to former Vikings first-round draft pick Dimitrius Underwood.

It goes without saying that both men have issues, most notably a crisis when trying to reconcile their faith in the context of a violent game that has given them so much.

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Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 74 4th Qtr 8:28
Memphis 68
Washington 67 4th Qtr 10:14
Chicago 79
Milwaukee 47 2nd Qtr 5:56
Denver 40
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 3rd Prd 6:12
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 2 3rd Prd 17:41
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 3rd Prd
Minnesota 2
NY Islanders 1 2nd Prd 9:57
Dallas 0
Anaheim 1 2nd Prd
Arizona 0
Los Angeles 0 1st Prd 12:12
Edmonton 0
San Jose 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 2nd Half 0:06
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 58 2nd Half 3:17
Northern Ill 59
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 20 2nd Half
Clemson 21
Texas A&M 23 2nd Half
Florida 26
Kentucky 23 1st Half 3:33
Georgia 24
West Virginia 38 1st Half 2:25
Kansas 22
Auburn 30 2nd Half
Missouri 30
Michigan 34 2nd Half
Northwestern 27
Villanova 12 1st Half 5:02
Creighton 19
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 2nd Half 0:29
Kansas State 57
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 30 2nd Half
Air Force 24
San Jose St 28 2nd Half
Boise State 48
Nevada 24 2nd Half
Colorado State 37
UNLV 18 2nd Half
San Diego State 26
Wyoming 29 2nd Half
Utah State 28
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