The number nine and a few of our favorite sports teams:

THE WOLVES -- Nine consecutive years the team has missed the playoffs, and if it keeps jacking around with games against teams like Orlando (narrow win), at Cleveland (down 23, came charging, missed, lost by nose to non-playoff team) and Washington (non-playoff team) they will miss again, and it will be a huge buzzkill.

The Clippers entered Target Center and left with the money last night, and that's fine -- for now -- because the Clippers are better than the Wolves. The loss the night before, though, when the team blew a double-digit lead at D.C. can't happen if we all are to be serious about the playoff hopes. In that game, sharpshooter KEVIN MARTIN came up bad, and the team couldn't keep up with the Wiz in transition. At times the home team's fast break made it look like their players were going two to our one, and that includes the lumbering NENE.

Martin bounced back last night -- because he's a stud -- with 28 points and 10 rebounds but KEVIN LOVE came up bad, shooting 2-for-14, missing four of 10 freebies and amassing five turnovers. Stuff happens and you can't be mad at Martin for Washington or Love for last night because those two have carried the team to excitement most of the year and have played at All Star levels.

Still, if the Wolves are going to be inconsistent against sketchy outfits ,beating San Antonio, The OKC, Houston, Portland, Memphis, the Clippers,  Dallas,Golden State and others for a playoff spots will be difficult, and scratching that nine-year postseason itch will not transpire.

GOPHERS FOOTBALL -- They haven't won The Ax in nine years, and I'd really like to see them upset the Badgers Saturday so that fan base can feel as proud as it has in a long time. Nine wins and a big upset of a team that truly may be one of the 10 best in the land means a Jan. 1 bowl game and a trip to warm weather for those who choose to go.

Indiana's offense is pretty good/explosive, and the Badgers held said squad to three last game. Wisconsin is on an influential run and probably thinks our little four-game conference winning streak is the cutest ever.

If that's the case punch the Red and White in the proverbial mouth early and open a double-digit lead. Lessen the rock-star running game by forcing the Badgers to become more "left-handed" and a pass-more offense.

The last time Minnesota beat the Badgers MARONEY and BARBER combined for 274 rushing yards, and mashing on that Wisconsin defense is imperative to take pressure off MR. LIMEGROVER'S offense. Getting down big to the Badgers early means the Gophers might get mauled, and the nine-year Ax itch will not be scratched.

ADRIAN PETERSON -- Border Battle 107 and MVP said today he's playing. That means he feels he's capable of cutting loose on a defense that is missing tackles and second-guessing things.

So, the hope here is Adrian averages a season-best nine YPC and finishes with like 216 yards on 24 carries. It would be nice to see him get loose for a big one and be healthy enough to streak clear for a long, long TD. He has done it all his career against this team, and after battling those studs on Seattle this challenge should not be as imposing.

Get Adrian in gear for nine YPC off a bunch of runs and the Vikings will be able to avoid the nine-loss itch.