2Day's Two Cents: Lynx rank among best in state history

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 10, 2011 - 1:42 PM

How do the WNBA champions stack up with Minnesota's other top teams?

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The bouquets and platitudes for the WNBA champion Lynx have been numerous and well-earned. Now, though, it's time to raise things up another level and ask this question:

Are the 2011 Lynx the most dominant team in Minnesota sports history? It's one of those questions that has no perfect answer. Comparing different sports, leagues and eras is nearly impossible because of all the variables at play. Yet we try.

Dominance is subjective, but you won't see any Twins team on this list even though they won two World Series. Here, then, are the contenders. In order to be considered, a team had to play in the top-level U.S. pro league or the top college division in their sport.

2011 LYNX

The case for: The Lynx compiled the best regular-season record in the WNBA (27-7) by six full games, then went 7-1 in the playoffs en route to their first championship. Four of their five starters were named to the All-Star team. Their average margin of victory in sweeping the conference finals and WNBA Finals was 14.2 points.

The case against: The only stumble was a rough first round against San Antonio that went the full three games and included a one-point victory in Game 1 at home.

1949-50 MINNEAPOLIS LAKERS

The case for: Went an impressive 51-17 (.750) during the regular season, the best winning percentage the franchise posted in any of its seasons in Minneapolis. The squad then went 11-2 in the postseason (including a victory in a division tiebreaker) and swept all three series leading up to the finals. George Mikan led the league in scoring at 27.4 ppg and almost certainly would have been MVP if the award existed at the time.

The case against: While dominant, the team didn't even have the best record in the NBA that year (Syracuse, playing four fewer games, was 51-13).

1998 VIKINGS

The case for: A high-powered machine that racked up a then-league record 556 points on the way to a 15-1 regular-season record. The Vikings scored at least 24 points in every game and topped 30 on 11 different occasions. The team had 10 players named to the Pro Bowl.

The case against: We all know what happened.

2001-02 GOPHERS MEN'S HOCKEY

The case for: Team finished 32-8-4, culminating with an NCAA championship -- the first for the program since 1979 -- at Xcel Energy Center. Defenseman Jordan Leopold won the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top college player in the country.

The case against: As good as the Gophers were, they finished just third in the WCHA that year behind Denver and St. Cloud State. They won their three NCAA tourney games by a combined four goals, including the championship over Maine in overtime.

1941 GOPHERS FOOTBALL

The case for: Went undefeated (8-0) en route to a national championship, while Bruce Smith won the only Heisman Trophy in school history.

The case against: The season included plenty of nail- biters, including a one-point victory over Northwestern.

HONORABLE MENTION

1956 national champion Gophers baseball team; 2001 and 2002 NCAA champion Gophers wrestling teams.

THE CONCLUSION

It's hard to argue with the credentials of any of these teams. At the very least, the Lynx clearly belong in the conversation.

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(8) Michigan State
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