Rand: What you think (and what we think) about local teams' playoff hopes

  • Updated: March 6, 2014 - 6:29 AM
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Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, left, pulls a rebound away from Sacramento Kings' Quincy Acy, center, and Isaiah Thomas during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, March 1, 2014. The Timberwolves won 108-97.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

With four of Minnesota’s winter teams hanging onto various levels of playoff hopes, we asked readers on Wednesday simple yes or no questions: Would they make it, or would they be left out? Here are the reader results from those four polls (as of 9 p.m. Wednesday), along with our thoughts:

1) Will the Wild make the playoffs?

Reader vote: 91 percent yes.

Our take: 85 percent yes. The percentage is even higher based on number-crunching at hockey-reference.com, but even with the Wild adding reinforcements at the trade deadline, this feels slightly precarious. Darcy Kuemper has been great, but he has still only started 20 games in his NHL career. This team relies so heavily on goaltending that one bad streak could put the status back in limbo. That said, the Wild has done everything in its power to create a cushion. With a stretch of eight out of 10 games on the road coming up starting in mid-March, the Wild would be wise to expand it even more before then.

2) Will the Wolves make the playoffs?

Reader vote: 28 percent yes.

Our take: 20 percent yes. The readers were pretty much right on with this one. Minnesota at least put itself in a relevant position with a 4-1 road trip and could further close the gap with a string of winnable games coming up. But the Wolves probably squandered too many games early in the year. They will need to pass two teams — out of Dallas, Phoenix, Memphis and Golden State — and that’s a tall order. They might win 45 games and still miss the playoffs.

3) Will the Gophers men’s basketball team make the NCAA tournament?

Reader vote: 40 percent yes.

Our take: 50 percent yes. Here’s what I think happens: The Gophers win against Penn State on Sunday and get the No. 7 seed in the conference tournament after Indiana loses at Michigan on Saturday. That likely gives Minnesota a matchup against either Purdue, Penn State or Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. While a victory in that game doesn’t help the team’s RPI, it should be just enough to sneak into the NCAA field, probably in one of the play-in games.

4) Will the Gophers women’s basketball team make the NCAA tournament?

Reader vote: 56 percent yes.

Our take: 65 percent yes. The Gophers went 6-2 in the second half of the league schedule and have won twice by double digits over Wisconsin this year. They play the Badgers in the Big Ten tournament on Thursday night Indianapolis. A victory there very well could be enough for a bid.

Michael Rand







 

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  • The Minnesota Wild faced the Calgary Flames in an NHL hockey game Monday night, March 3, 2014 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Wild's Zach Parise signaled for a pass from the corner as he skated towards Flames goaltender Reta Berra in the first period. ] JEFF WHEELER ‚Ä¢ jeff.wheeler@startribune.com

  • Gopher Austin Hollins, right congratulated Andre Hollins after a foul was called on Iowa during the second half at Williams Arena Tuesday, February 25, 2014. Gophers won over Iowa 95-89. ] (KYNDELL HARKNESS/STAR TRIBUNE) kyndell.harkness@startribune.com

  • Gophers' Rachel Banham passes the ball during the second half of the Women's Gopher basketball against Ohio State on Sunday, March 2, 2014 at WIlliams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.

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