• The Timberwolves led by as many as 34 points in a road thrashing of Washington on Saturday, a rare game without Karl-Anthony Towns. But when Towns serves the second part of his two-game suspension Monday, the competition level will go up for the Wolves at home against the Bucks. Win that game, go 5-1 and then get Towns back? That would turn some serious heads.

• It's amazing what a 101-win season followed by a quick postseason exit does for offseason expectations and attention. MLB free agency begins Monday, and it feels like a lot of fans will settle for nothing less than a major pitching upgrade. It's hard to blame them given the opportunity in front of the Twins to add arms to a home run record-setting offense.

• The Wild starts yet another road trip Tuesday, this time four games out west starting in Anaheim. This is the third time already this season the Wild will have three consecutive road games; it hasn't had more than two consecutive home games at any point. The road-home disparity is the only hope for rally later in the season, but the Wild is already in a pretty big hole.

• Respect is earned, not given. The Gophers football team has done some very good things in starting the season 8-0, and there is a proper level of enthusiasm building for Saturday's showdown against Penn State at TCF Bank Stadium. But if Minnesota really wants to make its mark, the opportunity is simple: Win this game and leave people with no choice but to believe.

• The Vikings loss at Kansas City would have been predictable and forgivable had Patrick Mahomes been playing. Missed chances hurt extra bad, and they tend to show up as critical in the unforgiving 16-game NFL season. To keep from chasing that game all year, the Vikings need to put a different tossup game in the win column Sunday night at Dallas.