MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO – When it comes to basketball in the Twin Cities, the world champion Minnesota Lynx have been getting all the love.

But now, it seems the Timberwolves may be the new hot team.

One game into the season, they are undefeated. And fan favorites like Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love are healthy.

At the Target Center, ticket sales and energy are both up for Friday night’s game.

Diane Petit has had season tickets for years, and she’s a member of a group of hardcore fans that regularly meet for lunch.

“We’ve gotten to know the people we sit near every year. It’s like a social event,” Petit said. “The first goal is I want to see them get into the playoffs.”

Blaise Junker is also a regular at these luncheons, which provide fellow Timberwolves diehards a venue in which to huddle and bond.

“I actually played wheelchair basketball in junior high, and one of my best memories was actually coming here with the team,” Junker said.

That was 1989. Like his lunch mates, Junker’s been with the team through it all.

“It’s like, ‘Well, everybody loses once in a while,’” he said.

But so far this year, the team is winning. And according to Timberwolves President Chris Wright, so is the front office.

“We have a Ricky Rubio plan – a ‘#9 Nine-Game Package’ right now that is on the streets right now and, you know, we can’t take orders quick enough,” Wright said.

Target Center, which hosted crowds as small as 13,000 last year, is expected to host a crowd of 17,000-plus Friday night.

“It’s great that people are realizing that we got this asset in our community,” Junker said.

With Rubio and Love in good shape, and a big season opening win, Wright says it’s “game on.”

“The last time that we were in the playoffs was 2003/2004, so we’ve been in a bit of a drought. And now the expectations of the market are shifting,” Wright said. “They think that the make-up of the roster that we have today can really, truly get us back into the mix.”

Overall, single ticket sales for Friday night are up 14 percent.

One other theory on the Timberwolves’ new popularity is that with the Vikings’ season going the way it has, Twin Cities sports fans are shifting their attention.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield