WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUNDUP: Sunday's temperatures at Lambeau could reach "Ice Bowl" level
The forecast keeps getting colder for Sunday's N-F-C Wild Card game in Green Bay. Accu-Weather is now calling for a high of five-below for the Packers' 3:40 p-m contest with the San Francisco 49'ers. The wind-chill could reach as low as minus-51 -- three-degrees colder than the classic "Ice Bowl" championship game from 1967. Nose tackle Ryan Pickett kept his arms exposed in the 2007 N-F-C Championship Game at Lambeau -- and he said it took him three days to thaw out. He'll be wearing long sleeves this time. So will tight end Ryan Taylor, who says going sleeveless quote, "doesn't make you tough ... It makes you stupid." Defensive end Mike Daniels says he hasn't worn sleeves since high school -- and he won't do it on Sunday, either. The other big story this week continues to be the lack of a sellout -- and the possibility that the game won't be on T-V in the Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Wausau markets. The N-F-L did give the Packers an extension until four this afternoon to sell three-thousand remaining tickets -- or else the Packers will have their first blackout since a 1983 playoff game against the Cardinals at the end of a strike-shortened season. Five Packers were limited at practice yesterday, but they all expect to play. That includes running back Eddie Lacy, who's been playing through a sprained ankle suffered almost a month ago.
The Wisconsin men's basketball team remained unbeaten, after pounding Northwestern 76-to-49 last night in their Big Ten opener in Evanston Illinois. Freshman reserve Nigel Hayes had season-highs of 19 points and six rebounds, and has averaged just over 15 points in his last three games. Badgers' coach Bo Ryan said the 6-7 Hayes is a fast learner, and he's very smart and perceptive on the court. Hayes made 8-of-12 shots from the floor. Sam Dekker scored 15 and Traevon Jackson 10 for fourth-ranked Wisconsin, which won its seventh straight over Northwestern. The Badgers out-shot the Wildcats 55-to-39 percent, with a 38-27 rebounding edge. The Wisconsin bench dominated the Wildcats' reserves 32-to-4. Alex Olah scored a career-high 23 points for Northwestern, which fell to 7-and-7 overall and lost its second straight after a three-game winning streak. Wildcats' forward Nikola Cerina left early with an apparent leg injury. Wisconsin won its 11th straight Big Ten opener. The Badgers are now 14-and-0 for the first time since 1914. They can match the school record for their fastest start with a home win on Sunday night against Iowa.
The U-W Milwaukee men won their Horizon League opener last night, 82-to-76 at home over Youngstown State. Guards Jordan Aaron and Steve McWhorter had their highest point totals of the season -- Aaron with 27 points, and McWhorter with 17. Milwaukee led by 19 with 8:14 left. The Penguins ended the game with a 16-to-3 run, but it wasn't enough as they fell to 9-and-7 overall. Kendrick Perry, the Horizon League's pre-season player-of-the-year, scored 31 points for Youngstown. U-W-M improved to 11-and-4 overall. They'll host Cleveland State tomorrow.
The U-W Green Bay men overcame a sluggish first half to beat Cleveland State 66-to-55 at home last night. The Phoenix trailed 29-to-23 at the half, but they stepped things up in the final 20 minutes and shot 55-percent for the night. Green Bay was out-rebounded 15-to-3 on the offensive glass -- but they made up for it on defense with eight blocked shots and eight steals. Alec Brown scored 17 for the Phoenix, who improved to 1-and-0 in Horizon League play and 10-and-3 overall. Trey Lewis and Marlin Mason each scored 11 for Cleveland State, which fell to 0-and-1 in the conference and 8-and-7 overall. Green Bay will host Youngstown State tomorrow. In women's college basketball tonight, Wisconsin plays at Illinois. And the U-W Parkside men and women both host Quincy.
The Milwaukee Bucks lost their 12th straight game at Utah last night, 96-to-87. Milwaukee blew another chance to win back-to-back contests. The Bucks are the only N-B-A team not to have a winning streak. The Bucks trailed by 15 in the third quarter. They got to within three with 3:41 left -- but the Jazz then scored six straight points, and that was that. Larry Sanders led Milwaukee with a season-high 16 and eight rebounds. The Bucks only made 4-of-22 shots from three-point range. Gordon Hayward had 22 points, four rebounds, and three blocked shots as the Jazz improved to 11-and-24. The Bucks have dropped 9-of-their-last-11, and they continue to have the N-B-A's worst record at 7-and-25. Milwaukee is now 1-and-7 against teams from the Western Conference -- but they'll try to get a winning record on their three-game Western swing tomorrow night at Phoenix.
The Wisconsin men's hockey team will close out its non-conference schedule against Alaska-Anchorage tonight and tomorrow night in Madison. The 13th-ranked Badgers have won six straight, after sweeping Alabama-Huntsville last weekend. Mike Eaves' team has its third-best home start in school history at 9-0-and-1. Wisconsin has out-scored its opponents 45-to-17 at the Kohl Center. The Badgers are 10-5-and-1 overall, after moving to the newly-created Big Ten men's hockey conference this fall. Alaska-Anchorage is a former league competitor of Wisconsin's, and it remains in the W-C-H-A. They're 8-8-and-2 overall, and 5-7-and-2 in their conference.
Meanwhile, the Wisconsin women take a 14-game unbeaten streak into a WCHA series at Saint Cloud State tonight and tomorrow afternoon. The second-ranked Badgers have not played since December 8th, when they swept a home series against Bemidji State. Wisconsin has not lost a game since October 12th against Minnesota.
Former Milwaukee Brewers' starter Jeff Suppan announced his retirement yesterday, on his 39th birthday. Suppan said he has quote, "squeezed everything out of my ability" after 17 Major League seasons. The Brewers signed the right-hander in late 2006 to what was then the largest contract in Milwaukee history -- 42-million dollars over four years. Suppan had just helped Saint Louis win the World Series, and was the M-VP of the National League Championship Series that year. However, he struggled once he came to Milwaukee. He went 12-and-12 in 2007. He was 5-and-0 the next year before a late-season collapse, and he gave up three homers in a post-season game against Philadelphia which eliminated the Brewers after the first round. After that, Suppan had health problems. He went 7-and-12 in 2009, and was 0-and-2 in 2010 when he was released in the final year of his contract. He returned to Saint Louis that year, and went 3-and-6. Suppan last pitched in the Majors in 2012 for San Diego.