The Gophers finish the regular season this weekend against one of the best teams in the WCHA and the nation.
Wisconsin (21-8-4, 16-7-3) is second in the conference and ranked No. 3 in the national polls.
"You look at how veteran they are," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "They have seven senior forwards in their lineup. In this day and age that is unheard of.
The Gophers in previous games at the Target Center have a 7-4 record against all WCHA teams, and they are 6-1 against the Badgers..
Here are the scores:
2000 Final Five
Coach: Don Lucia
March 16: W Minnesota State Mankato, 6-4
March 17: L Wisconsin, 5-3
March 18: L St. Cloud State, 6-4
1999 Final Five
Coach: Doug Woog
March 18: W St. Cloud State, 5-3
March 19: L North Dakota, 6-2
March 20: L Colorado College, 7-4
Feb. 7, 1998: W Wisconsin, 7-0
Feb. 28, 1997: W Wisconsin, 4-3
Jan. 20, 1996: W Wisconsin, 5-0
Oct. 29, 1994: W Wisconsin, 5-2
Jan. 9, 1994: W Wisconsin, 4-3 OT
Denver has clinched the MacNaughton Cup, which goes to the WCHA's regular-season champion and the five home teams in the first-round of the confererence playoffs have been settled. Beyond that, a lot still needs to be determined.
For instance, the teams from second to fourth place in the standings are separated by just four points. Wisconsin, which plays the Gophers, has 35 points and is in second place but can drop to as low as a tie for third place and be the fourth seed.
If that happens, and the Gophers remain in seventh place, Minnesota could be playing Wisconsin at the Kohl Center in the first round of the playoffs.
Here is what needs to happen for that to become reality:
* Minnesota sweeps the Badgers
* Colorado College sweeps Denver (to stay one point ahead of the U in sixth place)
* UMD sweeps Alaska Anchorage (Bulldogs would tie Wisconsin in points)
* St. Cloud State wins at least one game with Minnesota State Mankato
More likely is that the Gophers will play either UMD, now in fourth place, or North Dakota, now in fifth. Or even St. Cloud State, now in third, but Huskies could be passed by UMD.
So what should the Gophers hope for? Probably either going on the road to either St. Cloud State or UMD.
Wisconsin and North Dakota are both playing real well. The Gophers were 6-0-0 against St. Cloud State last season and, even though they lost twice in a home and home series with the Huskies, they seem to match up well. The game in St. Cloud was a one-goal game. Minnesota just split with UMD in Duluth, so the Gophers would have a chance against the Dogs.
Don't like their chances much at the Kohl Center or the Ralph.
"They have played a lot of hockey games. They have a lot of experience. They have a very mobile defensive corps that can really get the puck up in transition. They have been good on their specialty teams. Their goaltending has been solid.
"But more than anything, I think their experience is what makes them [go]."
U TOUGH ON BADGERS AT TARGET CENTER