DULUTH, Minn.—Wisconsin's keys to victory coming into their series with Minnesota-Duluth were pretty simple: Use good goaltending and strong defense to contain the No. 9 Bulldogs' top line of Mike Connolly, Jack Connolly and Justin Fontaine, and pressure the Duluth goal with a relentless shooting attack.
The Wisconsin women's hockey team faces a key WCHA matchup this weekend as they travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State. The Badgers come into the series tied with Bemidji State for third place in the conference with 23 points.
For the second weekend in a row, the Badgers are set to tangle with a top dog. Last weekend, Wisconsin went toe to toe with the top-ranked team in the country and came away with three points. Now it travels to Duluth with a chance to deliver a similar performance and dethrone the current WCHA leader.
Now that February is almost upon us, it is only one short month until the most exciting event in college sports: March Madness. With the Badgers owning a surprising No. 16 ranking, and currently only second to Michigan State in the Big Ten standings, I started to wonder how Wisconsin might fare in this year's Big Dance. Even with Wisconsin's impressive 16-5 record, it didn't take long for me to come up with an answer: at best, a win or two.
The Wisconsin women's basketball team is coming off a much-needed one-week hiatus. This mental and physical break is well-deserved following a tough loss against Penn State at home last Thursday, a game that carried with it a lot of opportunity and emotion.
They are some of the smuggest words that can ever be uttered in the world of college sports.
Since junior forward Jon Leuer went down with a wrist injury over two weeks ago, Wisconsin has done more than stay afloat. The Badgers are 3-1 without Leuer and have risen to second place in the Big Ten. But tonight brings Wisconsin's greatest test without Leuer, as the No. 16 Badgers (6-2 Big Ten, 16-4 overall) travel to West Lafayette for a critical matchup with No. 12 Purdue (4-3, 16-3).
After a series like the battle between No. 3 Wisconsin and No. 1 Denver this weekend, there is a temptation to focus on the immediate themes like the massive momentum swings and how the Badgers took the final swing to get a three point weekend.
After the Wisconsin women's hockey team's 4-3 loss to St. Cloud State Saturday, reality set in for sophomore forward Brooke Ammerman. Coming into the series the Badgers sat at No. 7 in the national rankings, placing them on the bubble for a berth in the eight-team NCAA tournament.
Not long after the Wisconsin men's hockey team took three points from their series against No. 1 Denver, reporters uttered the two words that instantly set the bar of expectations for the rest of the season: national championship.
It's a refrain Wisconsin hockey fans are used to hearing: their team may recruit well and have the talent to make a run at the NCAA title, but for whatever reason they never convert on that potential. That conventional wisdom held true last year, as a promising squad collapsed in the last few series of the year and failed to make the NCAA tournament.
For the previous three games, the Badgers had been living dangerously. They recovered after falling behind Northwestern in the second half and survived a disastrous start against Michigan, but on Sunday it looked like that lifestyle had caught up to them.
If there was any question as to what a series between two premier college hockey teams should look like, the No. 3 Wisconsin Badgers and No. 1 Denver Pioneers provided a clear answer at the Kohl Center this weekend. After battling back from a two-goal deficit in a frantic third period to force a tie on Friday night, Wisconsin took to the ice on Saturday in front of a sell-out crowd and grabbed an early lead. Denver clawed back into the game late, but senior forward Michael Davies notched the game winner for the Badgers with less than seven minutes to play, earning UW a three-point weekend while solidifying a spot in the thick of the conference championship race.
The person at the forefront of my first column may be the most hated sports figure of the new decade: Lane Kiffin.
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.