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Wisconsin Basketball, Hockey Teams have eyes on big things

Let’s evaluate where the Badgers basketball and hockey teams stand heading into February.

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

We’re a week into February and deep inside the belly of Big Ten play for Wisconsin Badgers Basketball and Hockey, so it’s a perfect time for The Don to tell you where all of our men’s and women’s teams stand as they speed toward the stretch run.

Spoiler: It’s great on the rink, but a bit more tricky on the hardwood.

Men’s Basketball

Last week wasn’t kind to Greg Gard’s talented squad, as the then-No. 6 Badgers dropped a pair of heartbreakers: Nebraska on the road and at home to #2 Purdue and perennial All-Elbows Team POY Zach Edey.

While it was hardly a disaster losing to one of the toughest home teams in college basketball and to a Final Four favorite, it still felt like a week of missed opportunities, including blowing a 19-point lead in Lincoln.

Well, this week started even worse with a grotesque loss to last-place Michigan in Ann Arbor on Wednesday that has Bucky careening in the wrong direction on a three-game skid. Now 16-7 (8-4 in Big Ten) and ranked No. 11 in the AP poll (not for long), Bucky will roll into Piscataway this weekend suddenly searching for a way to stop the bleeding.

The Badgers are currently being led in scoring by sophomore AJ Storr at 16.6 PPG, while Chucky Hepburn (in thee role of a playmaking-focused point guard) is dishing out nearly four assists per game.

Steven Crowl is bringing down over seven boards per game, but no doubt wishes he had a few more recently, especially in Ann Arbor, where he had only four after getting into foul trouble.

Deep breaths, Badger fans. There’s still a lot of season to go.

Women’s Basketball

While it has been an up-and-down season for Coach Moseley’s Badgers, last week was pretty rough.

There’s no shame in losing a road game to a highly-ranked Ohio State team that has beaten Iowa, but the game went from competitive to a cakewalk in the blink of a third quarter eye, and a weekend loss to lowly Northwestern was a gut punch.

The 10-11 (3-8 in Big Ten, good for 11th place) Badgers host 16-6 (7-4) Penn State on Saturday, and a win would go a long way toward righting the ship for an enthusiastic team with some strong pieces in place.

Wisconsin is being paced in scoring and rebounding by do-everything forward Serah Williams, who currently stands at 17.5 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game, the latter good for fifth in the country. Super sophomore Ronnie Porter is second on the team in scoring and rebounding with 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, respectively, and is first in assists at 4.3 per game.

Men’s Hockey

Yes, a home sweep over the No. 9 Gophers would have been amazing. But, winning the shootout Saturday night to drop only one standing point to Minnesota on the weekend after a tough 2-1 overtime loss Friday felt alright and got the momentum back on the Badgers’ side before welcoming Notre Dame this weekend.

The No. 4 ranked Badgers stand at 11-4-1 in the Big Ten (20-6-2 overall) and trail first-place Michigan State by 5 points with two games in hand and the chance to host the Spartans later in February. A Big Ten title (and a lot more) remains firmly in Mike Hastings’ squad’s grasp.

The Badgers are currently being led in scoring by an incredibly balanced pentagon of Cruz Lucius (22), Owen Lindmark (21), Simon Tassy (21), Mathieu De St. Phalle (21), and Ben Dexheimer (21).

Between the pipes, senior netminder Kyle McClellan is putting together a Hobey Baker caliber season with a sterling 1.88 goals allowed average to go along with six shutouts and a .933 save %.

Women’s Hockey

Nothing has been particularly easy lately for Mark Johnson’s supremely talented team, but the 24-4 (18-4 in WCHA) and No. 2 Badgers just keep chugging along.

A hard-fought home sweep over #10 St. Cloud State stretched the Badgers’ winning streak to 11 games as they hit the road again to play Bemidji State this weekend.

For her efforts vs. St. Cloud St., sophomore Caroline Harvey was named WCHA Defender of the Week.

Super sniper Lacey Eden leads the team in goals with 22, while Kirsten Simms paces them in points with 49.

There’s no reason to think the Badgers won’t be returning to yet another Final Four this spring.