Reusse: Which Minnesota teams will see postseason success?

·4 min read

We have entered the time on the sports calendar when the summer, fall and winter seasons collide. The new sports media in these parts has a commitment to offering optimism, which is a contrast to those of us who were raised in the occupation in the time of four Super Bowl losses and Nebraska 84, Gophers 13.

So, here it is — objectivity meets optimism — for major sports happenings in the Twin Cities that will reach a conclusion in April, and perhaps beyond for the NBA and NHL.

What we're trying to do here is balance rationality with what can be looked at as a satisfactory result.

Twins

Rational goal: Win a playoff game.

The Twins are haunted by a North American pro sports record of 18 consecutive playoff losses. They also are boosted by being located in the AL Central, where Cleveland entered the weekend in first place with MLB's 14th best record.

Another indication that the Twins expect to see little of Byron Buxton in September arrived Friday when premier base stealer Billy Hamilton was added to the roster. That's right — the guy on the poster reading, "You Can't Steal First Base."

The Twins players have adjusted to playing without Buxton, the bullpen has been fixed and they have an equal chance with Cleveland to win the division.

Chance to reach goal: 25%.

Loons

Rational goal: Home playoff game.

I went to Bruce McGuire, my soccer confidante, for this and he wrote: "A home playoff game is the team's stated goal and that is fair. They don't have the tactical ability to reach higher."

Chance to reach goal: 50%.

(As a soccer bonus, Bruce gives the U.S. a 75% chance to get out of the World Cup group stage to the knockout round in Dubai.)

Gophers football

Rational goal: Win Big Ten West.

Jerry Kill said last month Mohamed Ibrahim "could be the best running back in the country." After Thursday night's slaughter of his New Mexico State team by Ibrahim and the Gophers, Kill might be eliminating the "could be."

With him healthy, the Gophers are better than last season. Plus, Gramps Morgan is a better quarterback than Wisconsin's Graham Mertz and Iowa has gone backward.

Chance to reach goal: 60%.

Vikings

Rational goal: Win NFC North.

Aaron Rodgers is back in Green Bay for the money, period. He knows the days of playing NFC title games in Lambeau are over, now that his greatest-ever receiver, Davante Adams, was allowed to leave.

If the Vikings can get lucky and lose only a couple of starters to injury for the season, they will win 10 at a minimum.

Chance to reach goal: 60%.

Gophers volleyball

Rational goal: Win the national championship.

This could be coach Hugh McCutcheon's deepest team, which is saying something. As always, he's making sure they are battle-tested through schedule heading into the mighty Big Ten.

Final Fours are fun, but now that Wisconsin has won it all, that has to be the Gophers' mission.

Chance to reach goal: 15% (a tribute to this program's excellence).

Gophers men's hockey

Rational goal: Win the national championship.

The last three national titles won by a University of Minnesota representative have been by the team in Duluth. This will be the 20th anniversary of the Gophers' last title.

Bob Motzko's recruiting has been magnificent. Even in the balanced world of top-level college hockey, the Gophers should be a machine.

Chance to reach goal: 40%.

Timberwolves

Rational goal: Win a playoff series.

Year 34 coming up and there's only been one spring (2004) when the Wolves won a playoff series; they won two of those as No. 1 seed in the West.

It's the Wolves, so you expect the worst, but as the weeks have progressed, I've lost all skepticism over the Rudy Gobert trade. He makes life easier for Karl Anthony-Towns and will rebound more of D'Angelo Russell's misses.

Chance to reach goal: 45%.

Wild

Rational goal: Win a playoff series.

These Wild-ings are 32-58 all-time in the playoffs and haven't won a series since 2014. I'm not sure about Marc-Andre Fleury as an ace goalie and most everything that could go right did in the 2021-22 season.

That said, Kirill Kaprizov is here, not in Russia, so they will be back in the playoffs.

Chance to reach goal: 40%.

Gophers basketball, men's and women's

Rational goals: First division (top seven) in Big Ten

Ben Johnson enters Season 2 trying to escape 14th place. Lindsay Whalen enters Season 5 trying to escape ninth place (tied).

He lost Parker Fox and Isaiah Ihnen for the 2022-23 season with knee injuries in summer workouts. She lost freshman-to-be Nia Holloway to a knee injury in a non-team activity.

Two coaches relying on freshmen and now with depth taking a hit.

Chances to reach goals: 30%.