Having won 16 of their last 18 games and being ranked 15th in the country, this might be the year the Gophers baseball team makes some noise in regionals and reaches the prestigious College World Series.
The last Gophers team to reach the College World Series was way back in 1977, the most recent of five trips in team history. They won national championships in 1956, 1960 and 1964 in addition to taking third place in 1973 and sixth place in '77.
The Gophers were Big Ten champs as recently as 2016 and 2010, but this year appears to be the best of the three. Entering their final home series of the regular season this weekend against Michigan State, the Gophers are 32-12 overall and atop the Big Ten at 14-3.
After Michigan State this weekend they play at St. John's (New York) on Wednesday and then three at Rutgers Friday-Sunday to close the regular season.
A strong finish could also give the Gophers a chance to host an NCAA Regional in early June.
"We've been real good about staying connected to our own values and doing what we want to do every day," Gophers coach John Anderson said Monday, via NCAA.com.
"They've walked the talk pretty much every single day. If I'm a betting man, I have to bet that they are going to stay focused here on the process of just trying to compete and play the game at a high level," Anderson added.
The Gophers lead or are close to the top of the Big Ten in almost every key statistical category.
- .302 batting average (1st)
- 312 runs (1st)
- 666 total bases (1st)
- .404 on-base percentage (1st)
- 3.26 ERA (2nd)
- .232 opponents batting average (2nd)
- .976 fielding percentage (2nd)
After the conference tournaments wrap up, the NCAA will put together a 64-team bracket made up of 16, four-team regionals. The host of each regional is typically favored to advance to Super Regionals, which is the equivalent of the Sweet 16 in college basketball.
Regionals are double elimination, Super Regionals are the best-of-three between two teams.
Teams that win Super Regionals advance to the eight-team field for the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
Minnesota made the NCAA Tournament in 2016 but lost in the regionals to Texas A&M, which was hosting that regional in College Station, Texas.