Want an overview of the state of Wisconsin athletics? Look no further; we will take you through the Wisconsin teams that are trending up, trending down, and more.
Please accept my apologies for being absent the last few weeks. Or, to my two haters, should I say you’re welcome?
No, Drew did not suspend me for conduct detrimental to the blog. I am happy to report that I finished my last assignment (unless I failed) for grad school on Friday, and I am excited to be able to turn my attention back to Badger sports. Many thanks to my colleagues at B5Q for picking up my slack; I owe them one.
Seriously though, it’s been a rough couple of weeks since our Oct. 14 report. Football hasn’t won, women’s hockey suffered its first loss, and men’s hockey is 3-3. However, there is plenty of good news, too, as women’s soccer and men’s cross country each secured a B1G title. Plus, volleyball is on a tear. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Stock Up ↑
No. 4 volleyball (16-4 overall, 12-0 B1G) ↑
The Badgers are off to their best conference start in program history after beating Indiana on Sunday. During this stretch, Wisconsin has won 36 out of 41 sets and beaten five ranked teams. That is pure and utter domination.
Last year, I said privately that I believe Kelly Sheffield is the best coach across all Wisconsin sports, and that is saying something given the quality of his colleagues. After this turnaround from a 4-4 start, I’ll shout it out loud. The man can coach, and his players are executing at an extremely high level.
Cross country ↑
A few weeks ago I was reminded that track and field is the gold standard for UW athletics alongside women’s hockey, and you are right. The men won their 50th B1G title this weekend.
Unreal. My brain is in recovery mode from thinking about that number.
Your 2019 B1G Ten Champions are bringing home their 5️⃣0️⃣th title (yes, you heard that right... 50 ) pic.twitter.com/TlritA8CNa— Wisconsin Track & Field (@BadgerTrackXC) November 3, 2019
While the women took second in the B1G, Alicia Monson won her second straight B1G individual title with a 20:05.4 6k. Amy Davis finished fourth in the championships, and both she and Monson took home first-team All-Big Ten Honors.
She does it again. Alicia Monson coming through in first place to claim that Big Ten title! pic.twitter.com/AAqKdKIWrJ— FloTrack (@FloTrack) November 3, 2019
Men’s soccer (3-10-4 overall, 1-4-3 B1G) ↑
Listen, I’ve given the men’s soccer team a rough time about a difficult season, but it finished the season 1-0-2 in the last three games, including a win over Ohio State on Sunday to close the season.
Stock Down ↓
No. 1 Women’s hockey (10-1-1 overall, 4-1-1 WCHA) ↓
When you’re the best team in the country, it’s pretty easy for your stock to decline. The Badgers only earned one out of six possible points this weekend when it visited No. 2 Minnesota (10-1-1 overall, 6-1-1 WCHA).
Plus, this happened:
Gotta tap your stick and move on. The rematch at LaBahn will be intense.
Wisconsin’s offensive line ↓
My strength is most certainly not understanding how to analyze an offensive line, so when the Badgers faced weaker opposition, it was difficult for me to tell how good the unit was. However, after Wisconsin’s pair of October losses, I learned that the o-line is not up to Badgers standard.
The ironic part is the o-line probably compares favorably to many teams in the country; o-line play seems to be in a general decline.
The bottom line is this: if Wisconsin’s going to compete for B1G titles, it needs a fistful of NFL-caliber offensive linemen. I think the offensive line will recover in the years to come, but it has taken a bit of a step back.
Wisconsin’s defense ↓
This is still a good defense, but Illinois and Ohio State both exposed some issues. I don’t know exactly what the issue is, but tackling form seems to have gotten worse against Illinois and OSU. I expect the unit to bounce back in a big way against No. 18 Iowa this weekend.
Holding high ⮣
No. 7 women’s soccer (14-3-2 overall, 10-0-1 B1G) ⮣
After winning the regular season B1G title, lowly Purdue knocked off the Badgers in their first game the B1G tournament. No worries; the Badgers will get some rest before the NCAA tournament opens up the weekend of November 15.
Increased volatility ⟿
Men’s hockey ⟿
Since our last report, Wisconsin has won a few key games against Duluth, but Penn State swept the Badgers to open the season. Wisconsin’s an exciting hockey team to watch, but occasional lapses in defensive discipline seem to be an Achilles heel.
It’s all about consistency for this team. The Badgers won’t be back until they figure out a way to play strong night in and night out.