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Sunday, April 21, 2024
Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame 2/10 Men's Hockey 3

The Bird’s Chirp: A weekend for some of the marbles?

The Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team are entering a weekend series against Michigan State with a chance to win the Big Ten regular season championship, but how much does that actually matter?

The Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team have found themselves in a bit of a pickle.

On one hand, they’re in a really good position. They’re ranked fourth in the nation with a record of 24-8-2, third in pairwise rankings — which aim to replicate the NCAA’s tournament selection process — and second in the Big Ten. Even better, it’s a miraculous turnaround after finishing 13-23-0 overall and 6-18-0 in the Big Ten just a season ago. The team is also in reach of the Big Ten regular season championship.

On the other hand, they’re on thin ice. To win the aforementioned regular season championship, they will have to win both games against the fierce No. 6 Michigan State Spartans, who swept the Badgers earlier this season. They can afford to win one game in overtime or a shootout, but they must win at least one game in regular time. Of course, the Badgers are an entirely different team now than in November, but that doesn’t make the Spartans any less scary of a matchup.

But how much does a regular season championship matter?

Well, a championship is a championship. It’s never bad to add another year to the 300-level concourse of the Kohl Center. Looking up right now, 2021 is the only year currently listed under regular season Big Ten Champions.

There’s room for more glory. The Big Ten tournament follows quickly after the season, and the Badgers' high-seeding and home-ice advantage — in the first round, at least — shows a promising chance to reach for glory. However, losing out on the regular season championship and playing as a second seed would mean playing against Ohio State, who just swept Wisconsin on Feb. 16 and 17.

Then there’s the fight for all the marbles: the coveted Frozen Four and the following NCAA Championship. It’s important to point out that regardless of how they fare in the last series and the following tournament, both can potentially impact their shot at the national championship.

Winning the Big Ten tournament comes with an automatic ticket, although 10 teams are selected outside of conference champions. Continued strong Badger performances in the next month could be a way to punch that ticket.

Qualifying is far from winning, and the Badgers would have to fight the best teams in the nation to make it to St. Paul in the Frozen Four and championship game. 

This Badgers team has every chance ahead of them to make a significant dent in the record books. Likewise, they have every chance to drop the ball and win neither the regular season, conference championship or advance to — or even win — the national championship.

It’s still very much anyone’s ice at this point, and regardless of how the fight for one of those championship pieces may go this weekend, the Badgers will still have a very good chance to make their mark in the history books in the New Era of Wisconsin Hockey.

The Bird’s Chirp is The Daily Cardinal’s hockey column. Ian Wilder is the Cardinal’s hockey beat writer for the Badger men’s hockey team. Do you think this team has a chance to win some glory this season? Send all comments to ian.wilder@dailycardinal.com

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Ian Wilder

Ian Wilder is a senior staff writer and current men’s hockey beat reporter for The Daily Cardinal. He’s a former state politics and features reporter. Follow him on Twitter at @IanWWilder.


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