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Paul Bunyan's Axe.

WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Wisconsin gridders get ready for Axe game with Minnesota

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MADISON - University of Wisconsin first-year football coach Gary Andersen says he knows the importance of the Badgers' rivalry with Minnesota, which will be renewed on Saturday at TCF Stadium in Minneapolis. 

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Andersen told reporters yesterday in his weekly press conference in Madison that the prize for winning the Gopher game, Paul Bunyan's Axe, stood out to him when he first toured the Badger facilities.  Andersen saw Utah's rivalry with BYU first-hand for over a decade.  He says those rivalries have so many stories and great moments behind them -- and it's one of the great things about college football.  Minnesota still leads the series 58-56-8, but the Badgers have won the last nine meetings.  Both teams are 8-2 overall and both teams are ranked at the same time before their contest for the first time since 2005.  Wisconsin has one-game edge over the Gophers in Big Ten play.  The Badgers are 5-1, a game behind first-place Ohio State.  Minnesota is 4-2 in the league.  Badgers' junior center Dallas Lewallen was expected to return to practice yesterday, after missing two-plus games with a leg injury. Kick-off for Saturday's game is at 2:30 p.m. and the game will be brodcast on ESPN. 

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University of Wisconsin running back Corey Clement has been named the Big Ten's Freshman-of-the-Week.  Clement ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns in the Badgers' 51-3 home rout of Indiana.  He was one of three Badgers to rush for over 100 yards, as Wisconsin amassed 554 yards on the ground -- the eighth-highest single-game total in Big Ten history.  Clement, who's from Glassboro, New Jersey, won the league's freshman award for the second time this season.  Also, it was announced yesterday that Wisconsin's home finale against Penn State will start at 2:30 p.m on November 30th at Camp Randall Stadium.

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Three Milwaukee Bucks' players fully participated at practice yesterday, as they come off injuries.  Caron Butler was back after spraining his left shoulder last week.  Ersan Ilyasova practiced fully as he tries to play a lingering right ankle injury.  Back-up point guard Luke Ridnour practiced for the first time in three weeks.  He has still not played in a regular season game yet, after he struggled with back problems.  Starting point guard Brandon Knight was very limited at practice, as he tries to get over a right hamstring injury.  Guard Gary Neal was also limited with a plantar fasciitis injury.  The Bucks are off to a 2-7 start which is blamed mainly on injuries, and the team's inability to keep a consistent lineup.  Ridnour says the atmosphere is like an extended training camp, as the Bucks continue to feel their way into something consistent.  Coach Larry Drew says he's happy to get a break.  The Bucks haven't played since Saturday night.  Their next game is tomorrow night at home against Portland. 

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The University of Wisconsin men's basketball team jumped eight places to No. 12 in this week's Associated Press men's basketball media poll.  They also rose four spots to 15th in the USA Today coaches' survey.  The Badgers are 3-0, with a signature victory last week over then-11th-ranked Florida.  The Gators' loss dropped them five spots to 16th in the media poll.  Meanwhile, Marquette remains in the AP Top-25 -- but just barely, after losing the Top-10 Ohio State last Saturday in Milwaukee.  The Golden Eagles are ranked 25th with a record of 2-1.  Ohio State moved up two spots to eighth with their victory.  Marquette dropped out of the Top-25 in the coaches' poll.  They're the top unranked team this week, after being 17th a week ago.  Marquette's next game is on Thursday night at home against New Hampshire.  The Badgers return to action tonight in Madison against North Dakota.   Michigan State moved up to the top-spot in both polls, after beating former No. 1 Kentucky last Tuesday.  In the AP women's poll, Marquette is now four spots away from the Top-25 after starting their season at 3-0.  UW-Green Bay failed to get votes this week, after losing to Saint Bonaventure on Friday night.  The Phoenix at now 2-1.

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Keifer Sykes of UW-Green Bay and Steve McWhorter of UW-Milwaukee were named today as the Horizon League co-men's basketball players of the week.  Sykes, a junior guard, scored a career-high 32 points in Green Bay's home loss to Wisconsin on Saturday night.  He missed a shot at the buzzer that would have forced overtime against the then-20th-ranked Badgers.  McWhorter, a junior guard, averaged 11-and-a-half points in four games last week.  He had a solid assist-to-turnover ratio of two-and-a-quarter to one.  Meanwhile, Tesha Buck of UW -Green Bay is the Horizon League women's basketball freshman-of-the-week.  Buck, a forward from Red Wing, had a season-high seven assists and tied a season-high with 11 points in Green Bay's seven-point win over Duquesne yesterday.  She also shot 36-percent from three-point range in a pair of games.

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The University of Wisconsin men's hockey team remains at No. 12 in the new poll released today by U.S. College Hockey Online.  Mike Eaves' Badgers are 4-3-1 after splitting a weekend series at Miami-of-Ohio -- which is also unchanged in the new rankings at No. 8 with a record of 7-4-1.  Wisconsin is off this weekend, and will play at top-ranked Minnesota starting on Nov. 29. In the new women's poll, Wisconsin is still ranked second.  The Badgers are 10-2 overall, after winning a pair of games at Vail, Colorado in a tournmament this past weekend over Northeastern and Boston University.  Mark Johnson's team has won eight games in a row, after losing to top-ranked Minnesota.  Wisconsin will open a weekend series at North Dakota on Friday night.  UND snapped Minnesota's 62-game winning streak on Sunday in Minneapolis.

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Three teams from Wisconsin will play in the NCAA Division I men's soccer tournament.  Marquette University and UW-Milwaukee received automatic bids to the Field-of-48, after winning their respective conference tournaments.  The University of Wisconsin received an at-large bid, its first invitation since 1995 when they went all the way to the national championship.  The Badgers are 13-4-2, and will host Milwaukee on Thursday night.  The Horizon League champion Panthers are 13-4-2.  Marquette, the first winners of the newly-configured Big East Conference, earned a first-round bye as a No. 9 seed.  The Golden Eagles will host either Akron or Indiana in the second-round Sunday evening.  UW has not lost in 13 games at its home facility, the McClimon Track/Soccer Complex in Madison. The winner of UW-Madison/UW-Milwaukee game will face No. 3 seeded Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

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UW-Milwaukee will host the Horizon League women's volleyball tournament this weekend.  The Panthers earned the hosting role after winning their ninth regular season crown in the last 11 years.  Milwaukee also gets the top-seed, with a bye to the semifinals.  UW-Green Bay has the No. 4 seed, and will play fifth-seeded Youngstown State in the first round on Friday evening.  Third-seeded Oakland will play No. 6 Cleveland State on Friday.  Milwaukee will play the lowest seed to survive the first round.  Valparaiso, as the No. 2 seed, will play the second-lowest survivor.  The semifinals will be played Saturday at Milwaukee's Klotsche Center.  The title match is set for Sunday, with an NCAA Tournament berth on the line.

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The Marquette University volleyball team has clinched at least a share of the Big East regular season title, after shutting out Saint John's Sunday in New York City.  Autumn Bailey had 18 kills for the Golden Eagles.  Elizabeth Koberstein had 40 assists and a .322 hitting percentage, as Marquette improved to 13-1 in conference play and 21-5 overall.  The Eagles can win the title outright with a home victory over Xavier on Friday night.  

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The University of Wisconsin volleyball team has its first 20-win season since 2007.  The 14th-ranked Badgers defeated Ohio State 3-1 Sunday in Madison.  Courtney Thomas and Dominique Thompson had each 13 kills for the Badgers.  Wisconsin improved to 20-8 overall, and 9-7 in the Big Ten where they're tied for fifth with Michigan State.  UW will wrap up its regular season traveling to Michigan to face MSU and Michigan this weekend.

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UW-Stevens Point will play Hope College of Michigan on Thursday in the quarter-finals of the NCAA Division III women's volleyball tournament.  The Pointers won a regional tournament in Saint Paul by defeating Wartburg, Saint Benedict, and Saint Thomas.  Point made the Final Eight with a four-set victory over the Tommies.  If the Pointers win on Thursday, they'll face either Clarkson or Cal Lutheran in the national Final Four round.  Whitewater also made the national D-III volleyball tournament, but was eliminated in the first round.  Also, no Wisconsin teams are still alive in either the men's or women's D-III soccer tourneys.  Saint Norbert and Whitewater were eliminated from the women's competition during the weekend, while Oshkosh was one-and-done in the men's tourney.

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A curling competitor from Portage has lost his chance to make the 2014 Winter Olympics.  Ryan Brunt was part of Pete Fenson's rink that lost 11-1 in four sets to John Shuster's squad.  Shuster's rink claimed the U.S. men's curling spot at the Games in Sochi.  Shuster is from Duluth, Minnesota.  His three teammates are also from the Gopher State.  Meanwhile, two women's curling athletes from Wisconsin are on their way to the Olympics.  Erika Brown of Madison and Debbie McCormick of Rio were part of a four-member rink that won the women's U.S. finals on Saturday.

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Steve Stricker of Madison dropped one place to eighth in the new World Golf Rankings this morning.  Stricker has not played since the President's Cup about a month-and-a-half ago.  He switched places with Matt Kuchar, who rose one place to seventh in the World.  Pewaukee native Mark Wilson went down 15 spots this week to Number-181.  Jerry Kelly of Madison dropped nine places to 203rd.  Wilson and Kelly both missed the weekend cut at the PGA's Mexican event, the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.  In the Fed-Ex Cup point standings going into next season, Kelly is now 97th and Wilson 155th.

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