Gopher Basketball With Chance to Steal Winter Sports Scene in Minnesota

Photo: Brad Rempel - University of Minnesota

It’s been a pleasantly surprising start for Richard Pitino and the Minnesota Golden Gopher men’s basketball team this winter. After pushing through a relatively easy non-conference schedule, Minnesota has proven themselves legitimate early in Big Ten play.

At 9-2 (2-2), they already own two very impressive top-20 victories over #4 Iowa and #17 Michigan State. Those victories have even earned the Gophers the #21 spot in the AP Poll.

If Pitino can get more consistent offense from his wings and this newly constructed roster can continue to gel into a team, the sky’s the limit with the talent they have.

Minnesota will matchup with another top-25 team on Sunday, when #25 Ohio State comes to Williams Arena. They’ll have three more top-25 teams scheduled after that.

Make it through this stretch alive (2-2), and the Gophers will be pasted into the top-25 going forward. That could mean a lot of Minnesota sports fans jumping on the Gopher basketball bandwagon.

Staying in the top-25 and making any sort of NCAA tournament run could very-well mean sole control of the Minnesota sports scene this winter.

Dead of Winter

As sports fans here, we’re going to need all the positivity we can get. The Minnesota Timberwolves just got destroyed on Friday night by 30 points vs the Washington Wizards, who were winless (0-5) entering the matchup.

This team might not win a game without Karl-Anthony Towns, who doesn’t look like he’ll be returning anytime soon.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings will finish their season on Sunday vs the Detroit Lions. They were eliminated from playoff contention a couple weeks ago and have their golf bags packed.

A Wild hope?

The Minnesota Wild are returning to play on January 14, with a new captain and a bright glimmer of Russian hope. Still, until we see Kirill Kaprizov hit the Xcel ice, it’s impossible to know what the Wild can accomplish in 2021.

At the end of the day, they are rebuilding an entirely new roster. While the Wild might have more talent and goal scoring potential than anything we’ve dreamed of in the past… it’s likely to take time for all of that to come together and produce victories.

That means, if you want to watch a major Minnesota sports team win games this winter, you’ll probably have to flip on the Golden Gopher basketball team. You should start today, at 4PM.

Who’s on TV?

As Ryan Joseph mentioned in our Facebook comments right after I posted this blog, there is one other Minnesota sports pie variable to mention. Sinclair (FOX) is yet to reach a broadcasting agreement with Dish Network or any of the cord cutting services. So many sports fans around the state can’t watch Wild or Wolves over Gophers, even if they want to.

That is a definite factor in this conversation. It’s tough to cheer for teams you can’t watch.

It’s been since the late-90’s that Gopher men’s basketball owned a winter in Minnesota. Hopefully Richard is ready for the spotlight.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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