Eleven months ago, the Denver Pioneers entered the Kohl Center for a home series against the Badgers with a lot on the line. At the time, Wisconsin, Denver and North Dakota were fighting for the WCHA's regular season title and the MacNaughton Cup, and in two of their final three series of the 2008-'09 season, the Badgers would face both of those teams.
For just the second time all season, and the first against a conference foe, the Badgers (5-4 Big Ten, 15-5 overall) dropped a game at the Kohl Center, falling to the Penn State Nittany Lions 54-43 Thursday night.
It sounds like the script from a Hollywood movie: after a heartbreaking loss to Canada a few days earlier, the U.S. national hockey team scored a game-winning overtime goal to upset the host country, silence a hostile crowd and earn the gold medal.
With all of the decade retrospectives that went on last month, I started wondering about what the biggest sports controversies were of the past ten years.
Prior to the start of the season, the Wisconsin women's basketball team was picked to finish as low as 10th in Big Ten. Those early expectations are something the team has not forgotten.
It was easy for Ohio State and its fans to blame the 22-point loss to the Badgers in late December on the absence of junior guard/forward and Player of the Year hopeful Evan Turner. But Saturday night, with the roles reversed due to Wisconsin was without junior forward Jon Leuer, the Badgers could not pull out a victory,
Coming back from winter recess is typically strange when following the Wisconsin men's basketball team. Before the break, Wisconsin has usually only played games against one or two worthy foes, which means many questions about how good the team is in a given year remain unanswered. Then, many students leave Madison for a month, and by the time they return, the Badgers have then played in five or six Big Ten games, and fans now have a pretty good idea of how the team can play that season. Ironically, the period when most students are out of town is one of the most important stretches of Wisconsin's schedule.
The No. 3 Wisconsin men's hockey team blew out of the gate against No. 8 Colorado College Friday night, tallying its first goal less than a minute into the game en route to a dominating 4-0 victory. But the Badgers then gave up four first-period goals, and, despite a comeback, fell 6-5, splitting the series and missing a chance to gain ground in the race for the MacNaughton Cup.
The Wisconsin women's basketball team has seen its fair share of highs and lows this year. But since reaching its lowest point following a last-second loss at Illinois two weeks ago, the team has reached new heights.
Columnist's note: Last year at this time, this space was used to highlight Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema's responsibility for his team's troubling season. In light of his performance this year, it is only fair that the following is written.
The Wisconsin women's hockey team fell in a pair of close contests to the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs on the road, coming up short in a comeback effort Saturday and struggling offensively Sunday. Those losses mark the first time the Badgers have fallen in a series sweep this season.
While most students head to cars, buses and airports and head home for a relaxing winter break, the Wisconsin men's basketball team's season trudges on with three more nonconference games, followed by the beginning of its Big Ten schedule.