It’s now been about a year since the launch of Minnesota Sports Emporium. We will have a full Fiscal Year Recap in the next, oh I dunno, month or so (Who are you, our investors?? Hold your horses.) for as our winter extends into probably mid-April, so too does our collective writing hibernation instinct. If we posted articles at a more glacial pace than we already do, we’d probably have broken off the Arctic Ice Sheet, drifted southward and melted already (TERRIBLE GLOBAL WARMING PUN: PRE-EMPTIVE APOLOGY)!
But with March Madness ready to kick into high gear, that means the playoff push is already underway for two of Minnesota’s professional teams and two of our high-profile collegiate teams as well. MSE has enlisted the services of MIT’s Postseason Success Predictor 8680 (pictured above the jump) to help us analyze the near-future prospects of each of these squads, giving us a sense of what we can look forward to in the coming weeks and, I like to think, teaching us a little bit about ourselves in the process.
The Postseason Success Predictor takes the rosters and recent results of a squad, weighs them against the general strengths and threats posed by the rest of the respective leagues, and spits out three Performance Indicators, which we at MSE have been trained to interpret and discuss at length. Those three indicators include two numerical values—a metric for Postseason Entry prospects and one that measures chances at Postseason Success, both graded on a 1-100 scale—as well as the PSP 8680-exclusive Spirit Animal Estimator. The SAE grades each team’s tenacity, determination, and pluckiness to determine who in the animal kingdom, on a scale from Field Mouse to Lion Shark, best represents a team’s character and fortitude. Much as you might pick the winner of a contest in your NCAA Tournament based on who has the better mascot, the SAE animal selection quotients pretty accurately depict who could probably beat who in a head-to-head nature brawl.
The Timbas' injury-fueled tailspin has continued well into its third month, as
last in the Northwest Division with a record of 23-41 after last night's
victory over the Hornets, 12th in the Western Conference and closer to the worst
record in the league than a playoff spot. But even with that win, Minnesota
has gone 10-30 since their win over the Thunder on December 20th. Five games
later, Kevin Love re-broke his hand and won't be back for another 2 or 3 weeks.
He's been on the court with Ricky for less than three quarters' worth of game
time this entire season.
|Here, Ricky teaches Spur Matt Bonner about the power of Dance.|
For a team that seems perpetually stuck in the mud, searching for silver linings in yet another lost season--especially one that started with such promise--might seem like a fool's errand. But a few recent positive developments are worth mentioning. During last night's telecast, Dave Benz remarked that Derrick Williams has seen the highest points per game increase in the entire NBA since the All-Star Break, and he buttressed that stat with a career-high 28 points last night. And everyone's favorite Little Ricky Rubio is back up to full speed and playing incredibly well, almost averaging a 15-10 double-double in February and posting his first career triple-double against the Spurs last Tuesday.
PSP 8680 Results:
POSTSEASON ENTRY RATING: 8 (ELEVEN GAMES BEHIND THE 8TH-SEEDED LAKERS WITH 18 GAMES TO PLAY)
POSTSEASON SUCCESS RATING: 2 (ABSOLUTE BEST-CASE SCENARIO: AN 18-GAME WINNING STREAK TO END SEASON LEADS INTO A 4-1 FIRST ROUND DEFEAT TO SAN ANTONIO. THANKS FOR PLAYING.)
SPIRIT ANIMAL: PIGLET FROM WINNIE THE POOH.
Back-to-back wins over Northwest Division rivals
have vaulted the Wild into first place and the number-three playoff seed going
into tonight's contest against Vancouver.
Both Minnesota and the Canucks
have 32 points in 27 games, but the Wild hold the tie-breaker currently with
two more regulation wins than the 'Couve. Though the season still feels like
it's in the early phases, the Wild will only have 20 more games on their 2013
schedule after tonight's match-up.
At times, the Wild's dominant dump-and-chase approach has netted some frustrating viewing experiences as teams like
and Anaheim have had no problem
blowing past Wild guys in the neutral zone and setting up their offense without
having to scrap at the half-boards on 10 or 12 straight possessions. But after experiencing some early season
scoring struggles, the Wild have scored at least three goals in 5 of their past
7 contests. Tonight will be Minnesota's
seventh attempt at attaining a three-game winning streak; they've lost in
regulation in their previous six tries this season. The squad's big offseason
investment have been paying off in spades lately, with defenseman Ryan "The Wisconsin Justin Morneau" Suter
putting up 14 points (2 G, 12 A) and winger Zach Parise 10 points (4 G, 6 A) in
the team's last 10 games.
PSP 8680 Results:
POSTSEASON ENTRY RATING: 64 (NOTE: HIGH MARGIN OF ERROR DUE TO SHORTENED SEASON)
POSTSEASON SUCCESS RATING: 43 (ARE THE BLACKHAWKS IN THE WESTERN CONFERENCE? ENTRY: Y. OH, WELL THEN. LIKELIHOOD OF STANLEY CUP FINALS APPEARANCE: 2.15 PERCENT)
SPIRIT ANIMAL: A FLAMING, GOLDEN HAWK.
MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS BASKETBALL
Associated Press writer Jon Krawcynski said last week on Dan Barreiro’s KFAN show that Tubby Smith might be out the door as Gophers’ basketball coach if the team cannot win two games in this year’s tournament. If that’s actually the case, then Tubby’s Team of Talented Underachievers might just have a fighting chance to save their head man’s job. The Gophers’ first-round opponent, Pac-12 Tournament runners-up and 6-seed UCLA, just lost their 2nd-leading scorer, Jordan Adams, to a broken foot. The Bruins were a team that had really been gelling in the run-up to the Big Dance but faced some inner turmoil (and coaching change rumors) of their own earlier in the season when center Joshua Smith and junior Tyler Lamb left the team during the non-conference portion of the schedule.
|Tubby: "Can I have one more season, ref?"|
Should the Gophers dispatch UCLA on Friday night, their next opponent would likely be
Florida, a 3-seed
that has made back-to-back Elite Eight trips. Florida’s
been the ultimate front-running team this year, as they have gone 26-1 in games
where the scoring margin was 10 or more points but did not win any of their six
contests that were decided by 9 or less points. In contrast, Minnesota
went 6-7 in games decided by less than 10 points. But the Gophers are also 3-7
in their last 10 games and have lost 11 of their last 16 games. So projecting
them to win more than 1 in a row against anyone right now is a big stretch.
PSP 8680 Results:
POSTSEASON ENTRY RATING: 100 (THEY ARE ALREADY IN THE TOURNAMENT, STUPID.)
POSTSEASON SUCCESS RATING: 30 (LIKELIHOOD OF FIRST ROUND VICTORY: 46.53 PERCENT, LIKELIHOOD OF SWEET 16 APPEARANCE: 10.43 PERCENT)
SPIRIT ANIMAL: IRONICALLY, A GOPHER. HA HA.
The Men of Mariucci had themselves a thriller of a weekend as they clinched themselves a spot in the WCHA's final Final Five before the conference's restructure and the Gophers' move to the new Big Ten hockey conference next year.
scored victories over
on back-to-back nights by the slimmest of margins. A late Beavers equalizer
Friday night set up Kyle "The Smile" Rau (working nickname) to play
the hero with an overtime game-winner, giving the Gophers a 2-1 win in the
first of their best-of-three series. Rau has scored in 25 of the Gophers' 38
games this year; the Gophs are Bemidji State 23-1-1
in those games.
|"Kyle the Smile," smilin' like Kyle smiles.|
For their Saturday encore, Minnesota twice battled back from two two-goal deficits to nip Bemidji State 4-3, as sophomore defenseman Ben "Benny" Marshall (nicknames are kind of Silky's thing) stuck a backhand shot 5-hole on Bemidji goalie Andrew Walsh for the game winner with 53 seconds left. With the win, Gophers goalie Adam Wilcox earned his 25th win on the season; one more and he'll have the Gophers' rookie record for wins in a single campaign all to himself. and they'll play an as-yet-undetermined foe in the Final Five semis at the
this Friday. XCel Center
PSP 8680 Results:
POSTSEASON ENTRY RATING: 99 (THERE IS ALWAYS A NON-ZERO CHANCE THE MAN RUNNING THE PAIRWISE RANKINGS COULD MAKE AN EGREGIOUS OMISSION, FOR HE IS NOT A COMPUTER.)
POSTSEASON SUCCESS RATING: 85 (LIKELIHOOD OF FROZEN FOUR APPEARANCE: 70.42 PERCENT)
SPIRIT ANIMAL: ALSO IRONICALLY, A TIMBERWOLF. HA HA, I AM ON FIRE WITH THE JOKES TODAY.