Welcome to 2018. How does it feel to know that someone born Jan. 1, 2000, is now old enough to legally vote? Wait, don't answer that. Instead, think about all the potentially great and/or interesting things that are on the horizon this year in Minnesota sports. There were literally hundreds of possibilities for this list, but I've narrowed it down to 10 things you should watch for when it comes to Minnesota sports in 2018. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Super Bowl LII
Can the Vikings reach and win the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium?
OK, I lied just a little. While there is no discernible order to the rest of this list, the possibility of the Vikings playing a home game in the Super Bowl is front-brain for a massive amount of the local population right now.
In case you've forgotten — which means you don't know any Packers fans, who are always there to bring up this fact — the Vikings have never won the Super Bowl. Not only that, but they haven't even played in a Super Bowl in more than 40 years. I was 2 months old the last time it happened.
We'll find out soon if this is the year — but hopefully not until Feb. 4 if you're a Vikings fan. Regardless, the Super Bowl being in Minneapolis is going to be a massive event.
2. Winter Olympics
How many locals will be bringing home the gold?
Five days after the Super Bowl marks the date of the Opening Ceremony for this year's Winter Olympics in South Korea.
If you hadn't noticed, it's pretty cold here in Minnesota. That tends to mean this state is well-represented in the Winter Games. This year should be no different. Whether it's hockey, curling, skiing or ice trampoline (I might have made that last one up), you'll have locals for whom to root.
What will this offseason and 2018 season bring for the Twins?
The Twins made a big leap from 59 wins to 85 wins between 2016 and 2017, but that doesn't guarantee anything about 2018.
Twins bosses appear intent on adding front-line talent this offseason, but the resolution of their pursuit of pitching aces such as Yu Darvish remains to be decided.
There is also the question of third baseman Miguel Sano. He had surgery in November on a stress reaction in his shin, and last week he was accused by a Twin Cities photographer of grabbing her and trying to kiss her at a 2015 event. Major League Baseball is investigating.
4. Gophers basketball
Will the Gophers have zero, one or two teams represented in NCAA basketball tournaments?
The Gophers men's basketball team entered this season with great expectations, appearing on some preseason lists as a dark horse to reach the Final Four. It's been an up-and-down first two months, though, and Richard Pitino's squad still has a lot to prove if it is going to live up to those expectations and at least earn a repeat trip to the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
The Gophers women, meanwhile, scored enough impressive wins in the first two months to show they might belong in the March Madness conversation as well.
Can the Lynx win back-to-back WNBA titles and get their fifth overall championship in eight years?
The Lynx have had odd-year magic working for them this decade, winning WNBA titles in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017.
That means they won an impressive four championships in seven seasons. It also means, though, that a repeat championship is the one thing that has eluded them. Minnesota's veteran core should be focused and more than capable of adding one (ring) for the thumb in 2018.
3. Vikings in Eagan
The new Vikings training facility opens
The Vikings will move their headquarters from Winter Park in Eden Prairie to the brand-new Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan in 2018.
The new facility boasts six fields, including a 6,500-seat stadium for high school sports. It will also be the year-round training home of the Vikings, meaning training camp — which had been in Mankato for more than 50 years — will now be in Eagan.
Will the Timberwolves end their playoff drought?
Led by newcomer Jimmy Butler, the Timberwolves have been transformed from a rebuilding team to one that looks nicely built.
They are on a path to reach the postseason for the first time since 2003-04, but — with more than half the regular season still to be played — nothing can be taken for granted.
Can the Wild get healthy and make a playoff run?
The most consistent men's pro sports team in town in recent years has been the Wild, which has an active streak of five consecutive playoff berths.
As other local squads have caught up, though, the Wild has slipped back a little this season. Simulation data says making the postseason is pretty much a coin flip proposition at this point for Minnesota. But if the Wild can get healthy and get hot, a deep playoff run is very much still possible.
9. Gophers football
Year 2 under Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck
A quick look at the 2018 schedule suggests Fleck's Gophers could and perhaps should improve on their five-win total from 2017, but it's also important to remember that building a college football roster takes time.
It will be interesting to see how patient fans are — and how patient they are asked to be.
10. Vikings QBs
Who will be the Vikings quarterback in 2018?
Three different quarterbacks started the vast majority of regular-season games for the Vikings between 2015 and 2017: Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford and Case Keenum. All three are on the roster this year. All three are free agents after this season.
There might not be a more fascinating offseason question than the dilemma of how that situation will play out. I suspect some of it might yet be determined by how the rest of this season winds up.