2020 is less than 12 hours away, folks, and B5Q has been reviewing the best of the decade for you. But we don’t want to get too lost in the forest and miss some of the trees, so I want to finish the season by reviving the B5Q year in review.
You’ll find the best and hardest stories of the year, to what extent UW met my goals and the goals I have set for 2020.
Top 5 stories
Honorable mention: Women’s basketball upsets No. 5 seed Ohio State in B1G Tournament
It’s been a really positive year for women’s basketball between a historic upset over Ohio State in the B1G tournament and several key commits including ESPN 100 recruit Halle Douglass.
No. 5: Football earns a trip back to Rose Bowl
We will see tomorrow how this all turns out, but the Badgers are back in Pasadena for the first time in seven years. Certainly a reason to celebrate!
No. 4: Softball beats No. 1 Oklahoma
The Badgers faced Oklahoma in the NCAA tournament and ended the Sooners’ 41-game winning streak. Later that day, Oklahoma eliminated Wisconsin, but that does not deminish the biggest upset of the season.
No. 3: Volleyball goes to Final Four and upsets No. 1 Baylor in national semifinals
Back when the Badgers were 4-4, I wrote,
“The pre-season B1G favorite Badgers are sputtering to start the season, and they are .500 through eight games. While the strength of schedule has been difficult, it is not as challenging as what Wisconsin will see when conference play begins.
That said, I am a huge believer in Kelly Sheffield; if anyone can turn a club around, it’s Sheffield.”
Sheffield turned the season around in a huge way, surging to a B1G championship and an appearance in the NCAA finals.
No. 2: Beata Nelson wins three national titles, nominated for Wis. college athlete of the year
Nelson set the 100 yard backstroke record in December of 2018, but she came back in March to improve on that record by shaving a half second of her time at the NCAA championships. At the championships, we won three individual national titles: 100 backstroke, 200 backstroke and 200 individual medley.
Also at the NCAA championships, Nelson took back the American record in the 100 backstroke with a time of 49:18. She also broke the collegiate record on the 200 backstroke with a time of 1:47.24.
Because of these excellent performances, she was named the CSCAA Women’s Swimmer of the Year.
No. 1: Women’s hockey wins national championship in dominating fashion
Just when I was starting to worry that Wisconsin was faltering from its status as a women’s hockey dynasty, it took back the crown as the best team in college hockey. I listed this season as the best in the decade, so it also wins out here.
Hardest 5 stories
No. 5: Men’s basketball loses back-to-back to Richmond and New Mexico
This was a rough one, as it indicated that the NCAA tournament could be a long shot, and the B1G schedule suddenly became horrifying.
No. 4: B5Q says goodbye to Jake Kocorowski & Mike Fiammetta
This is certainly not a bad story from 2019! However, it was difficult. Jake has become a very dear friend, and Mike took a chance on me and gave me this opportunity. It’s all good, as Jake is doing great things at AllBadgers.com and Mike is able to focus on his expanded role at Chartbeat.
Of course, the silver lining allowed Drew Hamm to take over managing the site, and he has done an excellent job. I hope our community appreciates the hours of work he puts into this; it should be evidenced by his excellent growth through the football season.
This has also meant an expanded role for Ryan Mellenthin, Tyler Hunt, Matt Belz and Matt Rock. As I’ve taken on editing duties here at B5Q, I believe they’ve all improved their writing over the last year.
The point is that even though we lost talent, friends and mentors, we all continued to grow with the support of the B5Q community.
No. 3.: Men’s basketball blown out by the No. 12 seed Oregon in NCAA tournament
I wasn’t surprised that Oregon beat Wisconsin, it was a rough match-up. However, the Badgers couldn’t shoot worth a lick and went on a terrible drought late in the second half.
No. 2.: Volleyball swept in national title game
This was the third time in program history the Badgers had an opportunity to win a national title, and Wisconsin came up short against a Stanford team with whom the Badgers did not match up well.
Even though Wisconsin is probably expected to make it back to the finals, it takes a lot to get there and it’s not a guarantee in a single-elimination tournament.
No. 1: Football loss to Illinois
It’s unclear how consequential this game was — could the Badgers have had an argument for the College Football Playoffs if it had two losses against formerly No. 1 Ohio State? It’s a question we will never have answered and debate we will never have.
On the other hand, it made the come-from-ahead loss to Ohio State in the B1G Championship Game less painful knowing that it was not a certain play-in game for the playoffs.
Reviewing 2019 wish list
Let’s take a look at the “wish list” I created for last year’s “year in review” and check in on their success using gifs. Come to think of it, that’s a lot easier to do than actually writing anything, so I think I’ll replicate that for the 2020 wish list, too.
2019 Goal: men’s hockey sneaks into the NCAA tournament
2019 Goal: women’s hockey ends the national championship drought
Status: (Author’s note: this is my new favorite gif)
2019 Goal: men’s basketball returns to the NCAA tournament and makes it to the Sweet 16
2019 Goal: women’s basketball makes the NIT (or better)
2019 Goal: football wins the Big Ten West division
2019 Goal: volleyball makes the Final Four
My 2020 wish list
2020 Goal: back-to-back women’s hockey national titles
2020 Goal: volleyball wins national title
2020 Goal: men’s hockey makes the NCAA tournament
2020 Goal: men’s basketball makes the NCAA tournament
2020 Goal: women’s basketball makes the NIT
2020 Goal: football is 12-0 heading into the 2020 B1G Championship Game