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This could the best spring for MN sports since 2003

March and April has a chance to be one of the most exciting periods Minnesota sports fans have had in a long time.
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March Madness. Baseball. The best record in the NHL. NBA playoffs. A trip to the Frozen Four. Major League Soccer.

All of that could be in the works for Minnesota this spring. Hell, this March and April could be as good as the spring of 2003 when almost everything was good.

  • Wild reached the conference finals
  • Gophers men's hockey won the national championship
  • Wolves made the playoffs
  • Gophers women's basketball made it to the Sweet 16
  • Gophers men's basketball reached the NIT Final Four
  • Gophers women's hockey reached the Frozen Four
  • Twins were en route to winning the division and losing to the Yankees in the playoffs

The spring of '04 was great, too.

  • Wolves reached the conference finals
  • Lindsey Whalen led the Gophers to the Final Four
  • Men's hockey was one win shy of the Frozen Four
  • Women's hockey won the national championship
  • Twins started a season and won Central before losing to the Yankees in the playoffs

This year has the chance to be as good or better.

March Madness for the Gophers

The Gophers men's basketball team has lost three straight, but it's not like they're getting blown out. At 15-5 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten, Richard Pitino has an NCAA Tournament-worthy team, having proved that it can play with the best in the Big Ten, including Michigan State, Wisconsin and Purdue.

Joe Lunardi has Minnesota in the big dance as a No. 8 seed in his Jan. 23 Bracketology at ESPN.com.

When March rolls around the Gophers will be digging into the Big Ten Tournament and hoping to hear their name called on Selection Sunday (March 12).

The Twins are back

What's in store for the Twins this season? The playoffs appear unlikely, but maybe this will be the year the young players take a step. If Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario and Jose Berrios, among others, show improvement, you never know.

Minnesota will have a chance to make a statement right away, with 19 straight games against American League Central teams.

Wild pushing for the best record in the NHL

The Minnesota Wild's chances of owning the NHL's best record at season's end are very good. They have 65 points with two games to go before this weekend's All-Star break. Washington and Columbus sit atop the race for the President's Trophy with 68 points, but the Wild has a great chance to continue winning in bunches when they play a franchise record eight straight home games beginning Feb. 8.

Fun fact: The Wild's 19 wins since Dec. 4 are the most in the NHL.

The regular season closes April 8, and there's a strong possibility the Xcel Energy Center hosts Game 1 of a playoff series for the first time since 2007-08.

Wolves fighting for a playoff spot

Don't look now, but the Timberwolves have won five of their last seven games and are only 2.5 games out of a playoff spot. It's way too early to believe this is the year Minnesota's 12-year playoff drought ends, but they are trending in the right direction.

Scary fact: 16 of their final 24 games are on the road. That's the recipe for a playoff killer, but at least the Wolves might be in the hunt in March and early April.

A trip to the Frozen Four

Despite Saturdays' 5-3 loss to the Badgers, Don Lucia has the Golden Gophers men's hockey team back among national powers. They play every weekend for the next seven weeks and then it's the Big Ten Tournament followed by the NCAAs, which they appear to be a lock to make.

The latest Pairwise rankings, which usually provides an accurate projection for the 16 teams that make the tournament, has Minnesota ranked seventh.

Of course, the Gopher women are once again a top five team in the country and capable of getting back to the Frozen Four in mid-March.

Major League Soccer debuts

Abu Danladi, the No. 1 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft, will help lead the Minnesota United onto the field for the first game in franchise history on March 3. The first MLS home game in Minnesota history is set for March 12 at TCF Bank Stadium.

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