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Wisconsin athletics: top ten seasons of the decade

It’s good to be a Badger fan

Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky flexed his muscles after making a late basket to extend the lead over Oregon.
Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky flexed his muscles after making a late basket to extend the lead over Oregon.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Wisconsin is not a one sport school; it has one of the most diverse athletic departments in the country. It excels in both revenue and non-revenue sports, and many of these sports produced several excellent seasons in the last decade.

Here is my guided tour of the best ten seasons the Univerisity of Wisconsin - Madison has produced in the 2010s.

No. 10: 2010 football

The 2010 Badgers, led by J.J. Watt, won the last B1G title before the institution of the B1G championship game in 2011. The Badgers’ season was highlighted by a victory over No. 1 Ohio State and a seven-game win streak to finish the regular season.

The Badgers also scored 70+ points in three games, including a 70-23 win over Northwestern to clinch the conference title and a spot in the Rose Bowl.

The Badgers peaked at No. 4 in the AP poll heading into the 2011 Rose Bowl against TCU, but after falling 21-19, it finished at No. 7.

J.J. Watt

No. 9: 2014 volleyball

The Badgers (31-3 overall, 19-1 B1G) began B1G play with a loss to No. 3 Penn State, but they cranked out 19 consecutive wins to win the B1G outright.

Then-sophomore Lauren Carlini won B1G player of the year and led the team with 11.23 assists per set.

After one of the best regular seasons in program history, Wisconsin made a run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament and ended the season ranked No. 4 in the AVCA coaches poll.


No. 8: 2016-17 women’s hockey

The Badgers had an outstanding campaign in 2016-17. They won 33 games, the WCHA regular season title and the WCHA tournament title. Goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens set the NCAA record for career shutouts and shutout streak and won the Patty Kazmaier award.

In the NCAA tournament, Wisconsin went to the Frozen Four and defeated Boston College 1-0 in the semifinals. However, a frustrating 3-0 loss to Clarkson in the championship game dropped this season significantly on this list.

Don’t worry, there will be plenty of women’s hockey later on.

No. 7: 2013-14 men’s basketball

In spite of a stretch in January, 2014, to February, 2014 when the Badgers lost five out of six games, Wisconsin earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

While I was coaching the Franklin High School chess team to a state championship, Wisconsin beat Oregon in a thriller at the Bradley Center.

The Badgers went on to beat No. 1 seed Arizona to earn its first Final Four appearance since 2000.

Unfortunately, the Badgers lost to Kentucky in the semifinals, but Wisconsin would return the favor soon.

No. 6: 2012 men’s cross country

The Badgers won their first three meets of the season and then stumbled at the Adidas invitational.

However, Wisconsin bounced back to dominate the B1G championship meet and the NCAA regional. In the NCAA championships, the Badgers finished runner-up to Oklahoma State.

Mohammed Ahmed was Wisconsin’s top runner in the NCAA championship, breaking 30 on a 10k and finishing eight overall.

No. 5: 2014-15 men’s basketball

A year after Kentucky eliminated Wisconsin in the Final Four, these two programs matched again in the 2015 Final Four. Kentucky was undefeated that season, entering the game with an impressive 38-0 record.

The Badgers beat Kentucky 71-64 to advance to the national championship game against Duke, a game we will not discuss in this post of happy memories.

No. 4: 2019 volleyball

@BadgerVB; UW Athletic Department

This season should be fresh in your memory and has a lot of similarities to the 2016-17 women’s hockey season. The Badgers started off the season 4-4 but thrived thereafter in spite of a brutal B1G schedule.

Wisconsin won the B1G title outright with a 18-2 conference record and cruised in the NCAA tournament all the way to the national championship game. However, Stanford proved to be too much, and Wisconsin ended the season as national runner-ups.

No. 3: 2011 men’s cross country

Mohammed Ahmed_Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mohammed Ahmed

Wisconsin started the season with a second-place finish at the Badger Opener.

It won ever single meet after that, including a B1G championship and the program’s fifth national championship.

Mohammed Ahmed lead the Badgers with a 29:06 time on the 10k run at the NCAA championships, which was good for fifth overall.

No. 2: 2010-2011 women’s hockey

The Badgers crushed the competition, earning a 37-2-2 overall and 17-1-1 WCHA record that season. The Badgers ended with a 14 game winning streak which included wrapping up the WCHA regular season title, tournament title and national championship.

Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker were three of the top four scorers that season. Decker scored 34 goals, Duggan put 39 in the net and Knight scored an astounding 47 goals.

Duggan and Knight were both finalists for the Patty Kazmaier award, and Duggan took home the trophy.

No. 1: 2018-19 women’s hockey

Women’s hockey is much more competitive at the end of the decade, in part thanks to the stars on the 2010-11 women’s hockey team. Because of this, Wisconsin’s 2018-19 women’s hockey national championship team gets the edge over the Duggan / Knight / Decker squad.

Goalie Kristen Campbell anchored this national championship team, averaging 1.03 goals against, which is good for best in the country. Further, she shut out every single opponent she faced in the NCAA tournament. Meanwhile, Annie Pankowski scored five goals in the three-game NCAA tournament.

With 35 wins and a national championship in a sport with improved parity, the 2018-19 Wisconsin women’s hockey team is the best team of the decade.

Honorable mention

  • 2016 volleyball
  • 2013 volleyball
  • 2011 football
  • 2017 football