This was not my idea, nor do I bring this news to you lightly or with any perverse pleasure. But having had this notion brought to me, and now having thought about it, this unfortunate reality is now mine to present to you: In the five biggest sports in which Wisconsin and Minnesota teams compete against each other, Cheeseheads have an overwhelming edge in bragging rights right now.
I would dare say that Wisconsin teams are as good (and usually better), in fact, than each of their five Minnesota counterparts — a testament to how quickly things have changed in some cases. Let’s go case by case:
Brewers vs. Twins: A year ago, there was a slight edge to the Twins. Minnesota was 85-77 and Milwaukee was 86-76, but the Twins made the postseason and had at least as promising a young core of players as the Brewers. Now? The Twins are stuck in neutral at best after a 78-win season and the Brewers are a juggernaut preparing for Game 1 Friday of the National League Championship Series after a dominant regular season and NLDS sweep of the Rockies.
Bucks vs. Wolves: Here’s another case where a close race that slightly favored Minnesota a year ago seems to be getting more lopsided in the opposite direction. The Bucks (44 wins) and Wolves (47 wins) both made the postseason last year.
Both opened with similar win total projections this year (Wolves 44.5 over-under in the Westgate Sports Book, and the Bucks at 46.5), but the Bucks have become trendy and are up to 48.5 while the Wolves, amid Jimmy Butler trade speculation, are down to 41.5.
And consider this: In last year’s preseason NBA GM Survey, Karl-Anthony Towns was picked as the player GMs would pick to start a franchise. This year Towns got zero votes, while Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo got the most votes.
The Bucks could be a top-four team in the East. The Wolves without Butler are a fringe playoff team in the West, depending on what they get back in a trade.
Packers vs. Vikings: A year ago, the Vikings steamrolled the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers twice on the way to a 13-3 season. This year the teams are tied in the truest sense. Both teams are 2-2-1, with the “1” being a 29-29 tie against each other in Green Bay. Both teams have scuffled to varying degrees so far this year, but both are absolutely still threats to reach the Super Bowl.
Badgers vs. Gophers football: One team has an outside chance still of winning a national title. The other hasn’t won a game in this rivalry since 2003. I think you probably know which is which.
Badgers vs. Gophers men’s basketball: Here’s where a Minnesota team could make up some significant ground this year. The Badgers missed the NCAA tournament for the first time in forever last season and might be no better than middle-of-the-pack this year. The Gophers were disappointing a year ago, but a return to good health and an influx of talent could mean big things this year. For now, though, give Wisconsin the edge.
The good news if you are in Minnesota? Wisconsin hasn’t hung any WNBA title banners, let alone four, since it doesn’t have a team. And the NHL’s Wild similarly wins a matchup against Wisconsin by forfeit (though I imagine the non-existent Wisconsin NHL team, merely by not playing, will wind up this season with a better shots on goal margin than the Wild).
Also: Gophers men’s hockey and Gophers women’s basketball are better than their Badgers counterparts. And while both schools have powerhouse volleyball programs, the Gophers swept the Badgers already this year.
Aside from that? There’s always next year.