I’ll be starting a blog with this being the first rendition of it. There will be a new post every Monday to start your week and every Friday to take you into the weekend. We will dive into headlines and thoughts surrounding the Gophers, Vikings, Twins, Wolves, Wild etc. Let’s get you all prepped for this weekend and the plateful of sports options with the teams here in the great state of Minnesota.
PJ Fleck’s squad is sitting firmly at .500 this year with a record of 4-4. The news on the recruiting front turned a little bleak this week as Brennan Armstrong (dual-threat 3-star quarterback) opted to reopen his recruiting options after verbally committing to Minnesota a few months back. There’s a domino effect to all of this. First off, despite the record this year the Gophers have looked solid in certain areas. Running back is a position of strength with the three-headed monster of Rodney Smith, Shannon Brooks and Kobe McCrary. The defense, regardless of some of the numbers, has looked far better than I ever expected given the depth issues and the plethora of injuries in the secondary. The overriding week in and week out question has been at quarterback and the issues they’ve had with consistency. There was a real chance Armstrong would’ve competed for the starting gig next year and may have had a good chance to grab it. He was the only quarterback in the Gophers 2018 class as of now. So, not to look too far ahead, but right now the Gophers next would have Demry Croft back, Seth Green and the redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan. We shall see how this continues to develop. As for this weekend, the Gophers have another tough road night game this time in the Big House. Michigan will be starting Brandon Peters who will be making his first collegiate start after coming in for a struggling John O’Korn and lighting up a rather weak Rutgers defense. If we’re talking straight up matchup wise, I do not like the Gophers chances against a Michigan defense that has suffocated the opposition at times this year. Croft was 9/29 last week against Iowa, this is just as good a defense in Michigan if not better and more athletic. The spread favors Michigan by 15.5 and the over/under is set at 41.5. As low as the over/under is, I don’t see this game being high scoring at all. I see Michigan winning this game 27-10 or something like that. Eat the points and take the under.
Who would’ve known having Jimmy Butler on the court would lead to success and victories? The fighting Thibodeau’s this year are 5-1 with Jimmy Buckets in the lineup and 0-2 (blowout losses to Indiana and Detroit) without him. Against New Orleans on Wednesday night, Jimmy provided the game winning 3 point play with less than a minute left to put the Wolves up for good. They sit at 5-3 entering this weekend where they will play Dallas and Charlotte at home. The Mavericks have been woeful this year averaging 98.3 PPG (4th lowest in the Association). Harrison Barnes leads them in scoring averaging 16 PPG but he’s shooting just 39% from the field and 31% from the land beyond. The Wolves shouldn’t have much resistance on Saturday. Sunday is a different horse. Charlotte has won three straight and they’re coming off a win earlier in the week against the Greek Freak and the rest of the Milwaukee Bucks. Rookie Malik Monk scored 18 points in the 4th quarter alone and had 25 for the game playing the role of capable sidekick to Kemba Walker. While Jeremy Lamb is starting for the injured Nicolas Batum, it’s Monk who poses a bigger threat for the Wolves when the Hornets have the ball. The Wolves will be favored and rightfully so. If they want to be seen as a legitimate threat in the Western Conference, take care of these two opponents at home. Simple as that.
Breathe easy this week and brace yourselves for a second half that doesn’t feature Mitchell Trubisky, Brett Hundley and DeShone Kizer in back to back-to-back weeks consecutively. The schedule proves to be far more difficult in the second half for the Vikings and the first decision in house will be what to do at the quarterback position. Teddy Bridgewater is expected to be put on the active roster next week and the Vikings will roll with it from there. To me, in its most bare context, Teddy gives you the best chance to win and the best chance to advance in January. All the other factors can be lobbed onto the table during the ongoing dialogue of Keenum or Teddy but I give Teddy the nod if he’s ready for that one reason. He gives you a better chance to win if he’s good to go and I believe the Vikings still view him as the franchise quarterback. For this weekend though, fans of the purple and gold, relax and enjoy the 6-2 start for Mike Zimmer’s squad.