1-23-09: I'm back... and so is the DFTU

Hello again everybody...

My apologies again for the lack of a post on Wednesday. The grab bag of ideas was just flat empty, but I'm back, feeling refreshed, and even have ideas for what I want to do next week. So hopefully I won't come up empty again any time soon!

Today, it's DFTU time again. Did Bucky rebound from their soul-crushing loss to the Gophers? Did the Wild finish strong headed into the All-Star break? These issues and more will be discussed. Off we go...

"Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money."
- Jules Renard (1864-1910), French author

On the one hand, I'm glad this guy thinks I'm not ridiculous for spending so much time on this without receiving any pay. On the other hand, he's most well known for a book titled, "Carrot Hair". Read into that what you will.

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Moving on...

It's time, once again, for everybody's favorite segment: Dan's Favorite Teams Update!

Minnesota Wild: The Wild are 23-20-3, good for 49 points and 3rd place in the Northwest division.

I asked the question in the preamble: did the Wild finish strong headed into the All-Star break? In a word, no.

Since I last wrote about the Wild they've gone 1-2, beating the hated Blackhawks in between losses to Anaheim and Los Angeles.

Those of you who read Monday's post know all about the loss to Anaheim, so I won't belabor that game.

The 4-1 victory over Chicago was fairly definitive. But so was the 5-2 loss to Los Angeles. It's been more of the "feast or famine" offense that I railed against last week.

Equally troubling was the team's ability to look so solid on the road, and yet look so helpless at home.

I hate to say it, but if the All-Star break marks the unofficial halfway point of the season, this kind of schizophrenic offensive personality may just be who the 2008-09 Wild are. It may not be a funk they break out of. It may just be how they play the rest of the year.

Boy, this is turning out to be a sunny description, ain't it?!

Sunday is the All-Star game. The Wild's lone representative is goaltender Niklas Backstrom. I'd advocate watching the game, but goalies traditionally get lit in this game, so I'm not sure how much fun it'll be for Wild fans. Besides, BBC America is running a Bond marathon, so I think you know what I'll be watching.

After the break, the Wild come back with a home game against Toronto Tuesday night. And that's followed by a 2-game Canadian swing through Edmonton and Vancouver.

Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers are 12-6 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten which ties them for 6th place in the conference.

Last week I discussed the crushing home loss to the Gophers. Since that game, Minnesota is 0-2, which has mitigated my bitterness somewhat. In fairness to the Gophs, they lost on the road to a Northwestern team that then went into East Lansing and beat the 7th ranked Spartans. So as it turns out, the Wildcats are playing some excellent basketball right now. As a Badger fan, I also have to point out that Wisconsin beat Northwestern by 30 earlier this year. Go figure.

Also in fairness to the Gophers, their home loss to Purdue last night was at the hands of some of the most suffocating defense you'll see in the college game. Purdue's not going to run and gun with teams in the tournament, but the run and gun teams are going to have a heck of a time against the Boilermaker defense. So who knows, maybe they'll make a deep run.

So why all the Gopher talk when I'm updating you on the Badgers? Yes, I'm just that bitter. Forgive me.

Ironically enough, it was a last-second, desperation 3-pointer by Wisconsin that sent their game Wednesday night against Iowa into overtime. Unlike the Gophers however, the Badgers weren't able to turn that into overtime-momentum and lost to the Hawkeyes 73-69.

So where are we with this Badger team? Clearly they've got talent. They took a 4-point lead into halftime in Iowa. But it seems they also lack the ability to close teams out. Their current 3-game losing streak is due, in no small part, to allowing comebacks in the second half. That's not to take away from the efforts of their opponents, but when it becomes a pattern, you have to look inward to find a solution.

I don't pretend to be enough of a basketball expert to know what that solution is. I do trust the coaching abilities of Bo Ryan enough to believe that if it can be figured out, he'll do it. But my fear is the same that I have for the Wild: this team may just be what they are. There may be no way to fix this. Sometimes, especially in college when there's constant turnover, you just don't have the right mix of guys to be successful.

I hope I'm wrong, but I'm fearful. When does Spring Training start again?! Oof.

The Badgers are at Illinois on Saturday and then home against a tough Purdue team on Tuesday.

That's all for this week folks. If things work out for me this weekend, I've something interesting planned for Monday, so I hope you'll check back then. Thanks, as always, for reading!

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