Badger Bits: 2012-13 a stellar year for UW Athletics in Big Ten

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

The latest academic school year featured four conference tournament titles for the Badgers.

It's always a bit of a reflective time as another year of Badgers sports starts to come to a close. Of course, the Rose Bowl and men's basketball wins over Indiana and Michigan -- it's still hard to believe it was 4-0 against those schools -- are some of the first memories to come to mind, but once the softball team made a remarkable run to win the Big Ten conference tournament title, all the great successes of UW sports in Big Ten play began to flood back into my memory.

Just think about it. Despite one of the bumpiest seasons we'll ever witness, the Wisconsin football team still made it to the Big Ten Championship Game and bulldozed Nebraska on its way to its third straight Big Ten title.

Don't forget about Badger hockey, either. Riding an incredible hot streak through the end of the season, Wisconsin won the last WCHA tournament title, clinching itself a birth in the NCAA tournament.

Men's basketball, the final revenue sport at Wisconsin not mentioned yet, also came very close to taking home a Big Ten Tournament title of its own. The fact the Badgers made it past Michigan and Indiana to reach the final was remarkable, but UW just ran out of gas in the finale against the Buckeyes.

It's easy to forget the team because of its phenomenal consistency, but the men's cross country team won the Big Ten Title for a 14th straight season!

Finally, we end with well-deserved conference tournament title for the UW softball team. In just her third season, head coach Yvette Healy has completely turned the program around. A team accustomed to being a perennial bottom-feeder in the conference is now a legitimate contender.

So remember, while some of us may whine about the basketball team's inability to make deep runs in the NCAA tournament or where UW football should be ranked in the fall, first reflect on the incredible seasons, especially in the conference tournaments, these teams had.

LINKS:

The latest: If you haven't heard yet, UW men's basketball is set to face St. Johns in South Dakota this fall.

Seven Big Ten players were invited to participate in the NBA Draft Combine.

UW softball will play in Eugene, Ore., against the North Carolina Tar Heels this Thursday in the team's first NCAA tournament game since 2005.

Wisconsin men's track finished third overall in the Big Ten, while the women's team placed seventh in the conference.

BTN's Tom Dienhart examines how many Big Ten football teams should be ranked to start next season.

See which awards won Tommys this year (Tom Oates characterized them as the "Wisconsin-only version of the ESPY awards").

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