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Dallas here we come!

It’s all set — the NCAA Men’s Final Four in North Texas this weekend features the best that college basketball has to offer. The Final Four is one of the most anticipated events of the year in college basketball. The East, South, Midwest and West region champions are headed to Arlington, Texas. All four teams, champions of their respective regions — No.1 Florida, Wisconsin, Connecticut and pre-season No.1 Kentucky — have won four in a row in the tournament to reach the Final Four, and all four teams believe they can win it. Let’s break down the finalists. Continue Reading →

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March madness continues

 

 

The National Invitational Tournament (NIT) has a rich storied history dating back to pre-World War II days. The Women’s NIT since 1998 has tradition as well — just not as long as the men’s. However, present-day hoops fans and snobbish media types give both the Rodney Dangerfield treatment:

No respect for either of them. While there are those who only see one tournament, and while the men’s NCAA annually gets marathon King Kong coverage and barely Timberbell-like coverage on the women’s side, this reporter gives four-fold attention to the two bigger tournaments, as well as the NIT and WNIT. Both men and women Gopher squads this week are in their respective NIT sweet 16 — the men play Southern Mississippi Tuesday at Williams Arena, and the women go to South Dakota State on Thursday. Continue Reading →

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Spoken Hero – Recording artist applies promotional expertise to community betterment

People in our community and their giving spirit to others often go unnoticed as “Unspoken Heroes.” Our “Spoken Heroes” feature gives the community the opportunity to recognize these everyday heroes and their accomplishments. Without looking for something in return, these individuals are often only rewarded by knowing that others benefit from their efforts. By Raymond Jackson

Contributing Writer

 

The first Spoken Hero of 2014 has made and continues to make many positive contributions to the Twin Cities area. He is the first nominee who is an up-and-coming musical artist whose main intent is to continue to be of service to their community. R&B recording artist J. MOST was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Continue Reading →

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NCAA shot still pending for Gophers women (updated)

 

INDIANAPOLIS — The waiting game is now underway. Minnesota (20-12) is .500 (1-1) thus far this post season. The women’s basketball team will know this Monday whether or not their proverbial “body of work” has earned them their first NCAA at-large berth since 2009. Nearly everyone who the MSR talked to here in Indianapolis last week thinks they have:

“I think Minnesota deserves to be in the NCAA Tournament,” says Nebraska Coach Connie Yori, whose league tourney champion Huskers twice defeated the Gophers this season, including a 13-point win in the Big Ten quarterfinals March 7. “With the strength of our league and their RPI (38), I think they need to be in the NCAA Tournament.”

The Gophers are 7-3 in their last 10 games, including a first-round overtime win after being down 16 points in the second half over Wisconsin. Continue Reading →

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March Madness begins

 

 

Let’s be perfectly clear from the start — this and all subsequent columns are March Madness cliché-free. We won’t be talking about dancing or getting tickets punched here. The Gophers women basketball team plays Thursday in the 2014 Big Ten women’s tournament in Indianapolis — they face 11th-seeded Wisconsin at approximately 8 pm local time. Minnesota (19-11, 8-8 Big Ten) as the sixth seed goes into Indy on a modest two-game winning streak, but more importantly, especially for further post-season considerations, the Gophers have won seven of their last 11 contests. Although the team finished with a positive conference record for the first time since 2009, from now on U of M’s “second season” record must stay above .500. Continue Reading →

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Record win streak ends for Gopher women’s hockey

 

 

 

Now that “The Streak” is snapped, will it be truly recognized as a historic feat?  Minnesota’s 62-game women’s hockey win streak ended with a 3-2 loss Sunday against North Dakota. The Gophers hadn’t lost a game since February 17, 2012, when they also lost at home in a 2-1 overtime defeat to North Dakota. This reporter vividly remembers when the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team won 90 games in a row over a three-year period (2008-10) and too many mainstream sports know-it-alls dismissed it as only women rather than correctly placing the streak two games better than UCLA’s 88-win streak (1971-74). The UConn’s streak didn’t need an asterisk, and neither should Minnesota. North Dakota Coach Brian Idalski told the MSR Sunday after his team’s one-goal victory to salvage a split in the two-game weekend series, “It [the streak] was a pretty special thing not only for Minnesota but for all women’s hockey. Continue Reading →

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College hoops still stuck on gender equity, racial diversity

But there appears to be agreement on rule changes 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

College basketball is now off and running.  Here are a couple of the least-discussed story lines:

 

Gender inequity in sports reigns supreme

ESPN next Monday (November 11) will hold its 24 hours of hoops. Once again the four-letter sports network, using three of its umpteen channels, will show only two women’s basketball games among its 18-game marathon coverage that starts at 6 pm Central next Monday and goes through next Tuesday. And although the two women’s games kick off the coverage, it remains a head scratcher that the self-appointed sports leader can’t or won’t find other female programs to show. After all, if ESPN can dedicate three channels to over 24 hours of live hoops, certainly, if they really were committed to women’s sports coverage besides the typical lip service, then what would it hurt to add a fourth channel for it? But when you ask the ESPN brain wizards about this like I did several years ago during a women’s basketball media conference call, they brushed my inquiries off like dandruff on a dark-colored sweater. Continue Reading →

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Gophers rise up, beat Nebraska

The best football in town easily is being played on the campus of the University of Minnesota. I was at TCF Saturday to witness the 54th meeting between the Cornhuskers of Nebraska and the Gophers. After 16 straight losses dating back to 1963, the Gophers rallied from a 10-0 deficit and won their second straight game in the Big Ten 34-23, beating 25th-ranked Nebraska for the first time since 1960. Nebraska travels with a large following,

and it was clear that TCF Stadium had at least 15-20,000 Nebraska fans in the house. The Gophers’ success helped keep the Cornhusker fans quiet. Continue Reading →

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College football games aren’t cheap, either

Last week we looked at the high cost of attending a Vikings game, but is attending college football games significantly cheaper than pro football games? To quote Les McCann and Eddie Harris — compared to what? Using again Team Marketing Report’s Fan Cost Index (FCI), the average cost of a Gopher football game for tickets, food, parking and game souvenirs is around $400, nearly $50 cheaper than a Minnesota Vikings game. “I think we’re one of the lowest ticket prices in the Big Ten,” U of M Deputy Athletics Director David Benedict told the MSR last week. “Based on where we are in relation to our conference peers, we are very affordable because we are on the low end of the scale.”

We examined football single-game ticket prices at all 12 conference schools, as well as Maryland and Rutgers, who both are expected to join the Big Ten in 2014. Continue Reading →

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