TCF Bank Stadium will hold an outdoor doubleheader Friday afternoon at the Hockey City Classic, featuring the Minnesota Gophers men’s and women’s hockey teams. The men’s team took to the ice late Thursday afternoon in preparation for Friday’s game. It was also a chance to see the ice at nightfall, checking out the sight lines under the lights. Coach Dan Lucia says there will be one other element in play that’s a bit more distracting than the waning sunlight.
Derrick Williams walked off the bus and strolled into Target Center toward the entrance to the visiting locker room. As he put his hand on the door knob and started to open it, he did a double-take to make sure he was headed to the right place. It’s hard to blame Williams for his tentativeness since he had spent the first two years of his career walking into the home locker room in this building. Williams made his return to Minnesota on Wednesday night, a month and a half after the Timberwolves traded the former No. 2 overall pick to the Sacramento Kings for Luc Mbah a Moute.
On Friday night, “The Bank” will turn into “The Rink.” TCF Bank stadium, typically home to Gopher football, has been taken over by the state of hockey. It’s called the Hockey City Classic, and WCCO wanted to know what it took to create the rink, plus who gets to skate on it.
Keith Appling scored 24 points to help No. 5 Michigan State beat Minnesota 87-75 in overtime Saturday after overcoming a double-digit deficit in the second half and blowing a lead late in regulation. The Spartans (15-1, 4-0 Big Ten) scored 15 straight points while holding the Golden Gophers (13-4, 2-2) scoreless for nearly 8 minutes after trailing 53-43 with 15:57 left. Michigan State missed an opportunity to win in regulation for the second straight game, losing a five-point lead in the last 13 seconds.
For middle-of-the-pack programs like Minnesota, the Big Ten schedule is always daunting. Well, the Gophers have rarely seen a stretch like the one they’re about to begin. Four Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 20, including three in the top five, of the Associated Press poll. Those four teams also happen to be Minnesota’s next four opponents. The Gophers play at No. 5 Michigan State on Saturday. They host No. 3 Ohio State next Thursday. They travel to No. 20 Iowa for a game on Jan. 19. They have No. 4 Wisconsin visiting on Jan. 22.
Five members or former members of the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team will be heading to Sochi in Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Among those who were named to the team was forward Amanda Kessel, who was named NCAA player of the year.
The Gopher basketball team opens the Big 10 Thursday against Michigan. One of the bright spots thus far has been point guard Deandre Mathieu. He came with Coach Richard Pitino from Florida International University. So far, he’s been better than most expected.
To Andre Hollins, every game is a matchup against a top-tier opponent. Andre Hollins scored 18 points and Austin Hollins added 13 as Minnesota finished non-conference play with a 65-44 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday night. Even though it was a ragged win over an obscure smaller school, Andre Hollins said it was another step in preparation for the spotlight of Big Ten play. “I come out every day like Texas Corpus Christi is Michigan St. That’s the mentality you need,” he said.
Southern Illinois defensive coordinator Kyle “Bubba” Schweigert has been named new head football coach at the University of North Dakota. Schweigert is returning to Grand Forks after a decade away from the program. He was the defensive coordinator that helped UND win the 2001 NCAA Division II national title.
Minnesota senior Austin Hollins has been named the Big Ten Player of the Week for men’s basketball. The award was announced by the conference on Monday. Hollins crossed the 1,000-point mark for his career last week in leading the Gophers to a 75-59 victory over South Dakota State. He posted his third double-double, with 20 points and 14 rebounds in 30 minutes. The small forward is averaging 13.8 points and 7.4 rebounds over 11 games. He’s seventh in the Big Ten in rebounds.
Andre Hollins led six Golden Gophers in double figures with 18 points as Minnesota defeated New Orleans 80-65 on Saturday afternoon. Center Mo Walker, making his first start of the season, scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Minnesota (8-2). Cory Dixon led the Privateers with 16 points, while Matt Derenbecker added 14 points and eight boards. The Gophers were coming off their most impressive victory of the season, a 10-point win over Florida State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Tuesday. But hoping to avoid a letdown against the lightly regarded Privateers (1-4), Minnesota coach Richard Pitino had his team on a short leash early.
Jeremy Langford ran for 134 yards and a touchdown, and No. 11 Michigan State wrapped up an unbeaten regular season in Big Ten play with a 14-3 victory over Minnesota on Saturday. The Spartans (11-1, 8-0) finished a perfect Big Ten regular season for only the third time.
The Michigan State-Ohio State matchup in the Big Ten championship game already is set, and the Buckeyes are two-touchdown favorites against rival Michigan on Saturday. The real drama in the Big Ten this week might be in the three trophy games — Iowa at Nebraska, Northwestern at Illinois and Purdue at Indiana.
Alec Brown had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks on Saturday night to lead Green Bay in a dominating effort against Minnesota-Duluth 92-57. Green Bay (2-1) coach Brian Wardle subbed Brown out late in the game when he was just shy of the triple-double with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 9 blocks. But Kenneth Lowe fouled out and Brown returned to the game to get the block and rebound. It was the first triple-double by a Phoenix player since Javier Mendiburu on Feb. 5, 2005. Keifer Sykes shot 8 of 9 from the field and 5 of 5 from the line to finish with a game-high 21 points. Vincent Garrett added 15 and Carrington Love had career-high 13 points.
More than 53,000 fans filled TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for the coldest game of the season. Temperatures were in the teens, but it felt like five degrees outside thanks to the wind chill. Folks tailgating before the game set up tents, propane tanks and heat lamps to help stay warm, along with lots of hot food. No matter the conditions, Gopher and Badger fans didn’t let Mother Nature take away from the biggest border battle of the season.