Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
Find him on Twitter
For a variety of reasons - a slow summer, local teams stinking it up, my Olympic excursion - I took a break from the all-important Local Power Rankings. Now, with the NFL returning to action, they're back.
If only Ricky Rubio were healthy, this could team might be the fastest-rising team in the NBA. As it is, the offseason roster improvements, along with Rubio's expected return from knee surgery, will make this easily the best and most fun-to-watch team in town. It's not really close.
What will be most interesting, to me, is to see how Kevin Love, who performed so well at the Olympics, plays this season. He's been able to improve in some way every year of his pro career, and he had to pick up some nuances, or confidence, playing with the world's best.
2. Gopher hockey
This should be a powerhouse team, which means I"ll be fascinated to see how Don Lucia handles the pressure of coaching a team with high expectations.
3. Gopher basketball
Tubby Smith should have his best team. I'm praying that none of his best players get hurt, partly because I'd love to have a fun winter in the Barn watching a good team, and partly because I don't want Smith to be able to cite any easy excuses. Other than his players having to walk outside in the cold to go to practice.
They'll be much better, but how much better? I say they're a playoff team, but as my hockey-minded buddies point out, the LA Kings barely made the playoffs last year, and they won the whole thing. Are the Wild better today than the Kings were last spring?
Maybe I'm crazy, but I see some hope for this franchise. I like Diamond. I like Deduno. I'm tremendously impressed by Cole De Vries' ability to get people out with average-at-best stuff. I think the Twins will re-sign Scott Baker, and Kyle Gibson could give them 100 good innings next year. Liam Hendricks has been awful, but there has to be something there - you can't dominate in the minors as much as he has without being able to eventually function in the majors.
Yes, they lack an ace, but this team went to the ALCS with a rotation of Brad Radke, Eric Milton, Joe Mays and Rick Reed. They don't need Hall of Famers, they need functional big-league starters.
The Twins need to sign one innings-eater and hope Baker can become a staff leader.
A lot has to go right for the Twins to contend next year, but are they really that far away?
You can make the case that this is an improving team with a bright future. You can't make the case that this is a good team now.
7. Gopher football
UNLV stinks, and the Gophers almost found a way to lose to the Rebels. They are lucky to be playing New Hampshire this week.
|Professional baseball (149)||Vikings (202)|
|Gopher coaches (48)||Gopher quarterbacks (13)|
|Gopher recruiting (2)||Gopher road games (3)|
|Gophers disciplinary action (2)||Gophers recruiting (2)|
|Gophers spring football (4)||TCF Bank Stadium (22)|
|The Big 10 (25)||NCAA: football (14)|
|Gophers coaches (60)||Gophers players (39)|
|Tubby Smith (38)||Williams Arena (16)|
|Gophers post season (6)||Gophers roster moves (4)|
|Golf (23)||Soccer (4)|
|Twins news (38)||WNBA (7)|
|Wild news (31)||AFC (9)|
|Bears (24)||Ex-Vikings (15)|
|Football on TV (77)||Lions (16)|
|NFC (69)||NFL draft (27)|
|NFL post-season (30)||Packers (52)|
|Super Bowl (47)||Vikings coaches (101)|
|Vikings defense (48)||Vikings fans (31)|
|Vikings injury report (15)||Vikings management (77)|
|Vikings off the field (28)||Vikings offense (67)|
|Vikings quarterbacks (41)||Vikings road games (14)|
|Vikings rookies (4)||Vikings roster moves (3)|
|Vikings special teams (2)||Vikings training camp (5)|
|Off the field (5)||On the road (22)|
|Quarterbacks (33)||Rookies (3)|
|Roster moves (1)||Vikings draft (41)|
|Ron Gardenhire (120)||Target Field (140)|
|Twins fans (149)||Twins management (196)|
|Twins offense (109)||Twins transactions (91)|
|NBA playoffs (40)||Wolves coaches (72)|
|Wolves draft news (28)||Wolves guards (37)|
|Wolves injury report (7)||Wolves management (76)|
|Wolves players (59)||Wolves trade talk (14)|
|Wolves training camp (11)||All-Stars and honors (84)|
|Fighting (2)||Wild coaching (25)|
|Wild management (35)||Wild off-season news (3)|
|Wild player moves (4)||Adrian Peterson (64)|
|Anthony Herrera (2)||Antoine Winfield (16)|
|Ben Leber (1)||Bernard Berrian (7)|
|Brad Childress (29)||Brett Favre (55)|
|Brian Robison (3)||Bryant McKinnie (3)|
|Cedric Griffin (5)||Chad Greenway (11)|
|Chester Taylor (5)||Chris Kluwe (2)|
|Darrell Bevell (6)||E.J. Henderson (4)|
|Jared Allen (29)||John Sullivan (6)|
|Kevin Williams (5)||Leslie Frazier (53)|
|Madieu Williams (2)||Pat Williams (3)|
|Percy Harvin (26)||Phil Loadholt (3)|
|Ray Edwards (1)||Ryan Longwell (9)|
|Sage Rosenfels (1)||Sidney Rice (10)|
|Steve Hutchinson (7)||Tarvaris Jackson (12)|
|Tyrell Johnson (2)||Visanthe Shiancoe (5)|
|Brad Childress (29)||Darrell Bevell (6)|
|Leslie Frazier (53)||NHL news (9)|
|2010 Winter Games (13)||Olympic curling (1)|
|Olympic hockey (8)||Olympic skiing (4)|
|Olympic village (11)|