Gophers would be lost without Mathieu

Minnesota point guard Deandre Mathieu has kept the Gophers afloat this season as they've stayed in hunt for a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

RUFF:Where would the Gophers basketball team be without Deandre Mathieu? Yes, too many turnovers by him game in and game out. But goodness, I love this kid.

BOESE:Gimme a minute while I add Mathieu to your all-time "man crush" list of Schlenker, Longar, Hicks, Shanks and, well, a lot of other local hoopers. But seriously, where would the Gophers be this year without their Mighty Mouse? The whole state — except me, obviously — might be pining for the return of Tubbyball if Richard Pitino was forced to trot out Maverick Ahanmisi at point guard.

Can this team possibly find a way to go Dancing in March?

RUFF: I think it's certainly possible, but I'm not expecting it. They've got five games left, and likely need wins in three. But they'll only get two, over Illinois and Penn State. Losses will be to Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan, all teams clearly better than them. Still, I won't be in a complaining mood if they're relegated to the NIT. Dancing or not, this has clearly been a successful season for first-year coach Richard Pitino. Many pre-season publications had them picked for the lowest reaches of the Big Ten standings.

The NBA trade deadline is two short days away. What's your prediction for our bunch of underachievers? Will the Wolves stand pat or make an emergency move that will likely come too late to get them into the playoffs?


BOESE:The Wolves are tied for 10th place, six games out of the playoffs. They're three games under .500. Some experts have predicted they need to go 22-7 the rest of the year just to sneak into the playoffs, against one of the toughest schedules in the Western Conference. Calling their playoffs chances bleak would be kind, and I don't see any trade really changing that.

The bigger question is, can GM Flip Saunders find a trade that makes them better AND creates a happier Kevin Love heading into his opt-out season in 2014-15?

RUFF:The most recent rumor has the Wolves taking on three old guys, with J.J. Barea and Chase Budinger going to Memphis for defensive-minded players Tayshaun Prince (33) and Tony Allen (32), and then the Wolves pursuing backup Denver point guard Andre Miller (37). I say no thanks to old guys. Those moves might get you a few more wins, but not enough to get into the playoffs. Plus, you'd be stuck with some crappy contracts.

The section boys basketball playoffs begin this week. Tell me who you like coming out of Section One, in all four classes.

BOESE:Really? I have a better chance of winning $1 billion from Warren Buffett for a perfect March Madness bracket. But since you're sending me down this rabbit hole, here are my predictions:

Boys: Rushford-Peterson over Goodhue; Hayfield over P-E-M; Red Wing over Austin; and Lakeville North over Farmington. Girls: Goodhue over Rushford-Peterson; Kenyon-Wanamingo to beat P-E-M; Kasson-Mantorville over Winona; and Owatonna over Lakeville North.

Feel free to cut this out and ridicule me over the next few weeks.

RUFF:The team looking strongest out of all your picks are the Rushford-Peterson boys. They just finished dismantling a strong P-E-M team 70-45, giving them the Three Rivers Conference title. Not too shabby for a Class A team in a league loaded with AA schools. R-P will be a heavy favorite to win the Section 1A title, and then possible add to their list of state crowns.


Trojans legendary coach Tom Vix knows how to get that done.

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