All you really need to know about U sports

Odds are strong that if you’re reading this column, you’re a college freshman and therefore know little about the University’s sports scene. Allow me to be the first to indoctrinate you to the sports scene here at the University.
If this moves along kinda fast, just skip to the bold words — nobody expects to hold a freshperson’s attention span too long.

Football:
Arguably the best spectator sport to watch next year. The Gophers could have gone 10-1 last season with a little luck. This year they have an untested offense but a stingy defense.
Going to a football game at the Metrodome has all the allure of going to a Springsteen concert in Fargo: The crowd’s there but they aren’t very excitable. With the exception of the Wisconsin game, Minnesota didn’t even come close to selling out the Dome last season.

Basketball:
Yes, the program will be lucky to go .500 this season. But trust me on this one, your season ticket will be well worth the price (around $150) for four games: Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Indiana. Big Ten basketball is Big Ten basketball, and The Barn can absolutely rock when the big boys come to town.
Women’s basketball is another story. The team is bringing in eight freshmen, (which, for this team, is a good thing) and the Gophers could actually finish over .500 for the first time since the Magna Carta was signed (that’s 1215 for all you non-History majors).
If you’re looking for a good game to go with friends, this probably isn’t it. High school kids populate the audience more than University students.

Hockey:
The women’s team is the returning national champion and will be NCAA-sanctioned for the first time in its brief history. Actually, if you’re looking for a game with a bitter rivalry, look no further than here. When Minnesota-Duluth comes to town, things can get downright nasty.
The Bulldogs took two former Gophers onto their roster last season, and Minnesota doesn’t exactly miss their presence. They faced each other six times last year, more or less splitting the series.
Of course, the men’s hockey team is crowd pleaser in its own right. No crowd at the University has more in-jokes or chants than the men’s hockey crowd. A season ticket is well worth the money just for that, with the added bonus that the Gophers might return to some of their former glory next year.

Wrestling:
Usually, the only match of the year that really matters for the wrestling team is the annual faceoff with Iowa. The Gophers draw more than 10,000 fans for matches with the Hawkeyes, and the matches are almost guaranteed to be crowd-pleasers.
Minnesota broke Iowa’s streak of 25 consecutive Big Ten championships two years ago before the Hawkeyes took it back last year. The crowd can get loud and excited. If you like wrestling, there’s usually one or two matches a year that will send you home happy.
The non-revs:
This sweeping category covers all the non-revenue sports (read: not crowd favorites) at the University. Some volleyball, soccer and baseball games draw crowds upwards of a few thousand.
When Penn State comes to town to face the volleyball team (a women’s volleyball team — there’s no men’s team), energy and crowd levels should soar. The Lions helped draw 6,000 fans to the Sports Pavilion last season in a raucous four-game match Penn State won.
The soccer team (again, a women-only varsity sport) has qualified for the NCAA tournament five years in a row and draws around 1,000 fans to every home game in their new stadium.
But as far as must-go events go, the non-revs barely register. It’s kind of sad, because many of the non-rev sports are the best teams at the University.
The men’s tennis team, which made the NCAA sweet 16, doesn’t draw the kind of fan support any of its brethren do. Swimming teams that regularly win Big Ten titles receive next to no crowds.
It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way things go here at the University.

Jim Schortemeyer used to be the sports editor and welcomes comments at [email protected]