WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Rodgers status for Sunday's game still a mystery
GREEN BAY - Green Bay Packers' head coach Mike McCarthy postponed a news conference from late this afternoon until tomorrow at mid-afternoon. The delay raised immediate speculation about whether there would be news about quarterback Aaron Rodgers' broken collarbone, and his chances for starting on Sunday against Atlanta at Lambeau Field.
During the weekend, NFL Network said Rodgers would be "lucky" if he could play against the Falcons -- and if the Packers don't win the game, they might sideline him for the rest of the season. Rodgers himself later said he would have the collarbone evaluated this week. He also told a TV reporter in Los Angeles that he's definitely starting this week. The Packers are falling further behind in the NFC playoff race. They're a game-and-a-half behind division-leading Detroit at 5-6-1. The Pack is also 0-4-1 without Rodgers.
The Green Bay Packers will play in their coldest weather of the season on Sunday, when they host Atlanta. Dry weather is predicted, with highs in the mid-teens before the wind-chill is factored in. However, it's not supposed to be colder until at least Thursday night -- and it would only give the Packers one day to practice in the cold, if coach Mike McCarthy thinks it's worth it. In the past, McCarthy has often given up the chance to practice outside during the week, saying it's more important to work on technical things inside without being distracted by the cold. However, McCarthy has been known to take his team outdoors with a big cold-weather game on the horizon. Sunday's contest does not appear to be that way, with Green Bay one-and-a-half games out of the division race with four left.
A southeast Wisconsin native was named today as the Big Ten football special teams' player-of-the-week. Senior kicker Jeff Budzien of Northwestern played his high school ball at Hartland Arrowhead. He was honored for booting three field goals and four extra points in a win over Illinois. Budzien set a new single-season record with 23 field goals. He also moved into first place on Northwestern's career-scoring list with 280 points. Also, Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg was named the league's freshman-of-the-week for his performance in the Nittany Lions' upset victory at Wisconsin. Hackenberg threw for 339 yards and four touchdowns against the Badgers, kicking Wisconsin out of BCS bowl contention with a possibility of going to the Capital One or Outback bowls in Florida on New Year's Day.
The University of Wisconsin men's basketball team has moved into the Top-10 in both major national polls. The 8-0 Badgers jumped from 11th place to 9th today in the USA Today coaches' poll. Wisconsin was already 10th last week in the AP media poll, and it rose two spots to Number-eight this week. The Badgers will play at Virginia on Wednesday night in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Meanwhile, the Marquette men dropped out of the AP poll altogether, after losing two games last week in the Wooden Legacy Tournament out West. The Golden Eagles were ranked 25th the past two weeks. Marquette did get votes by the coaches, and they're 14 spots away from the Top-25. The Eagles will play at Wisconsin on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Marquette women are six spots away from the Top-25 in their national AP poll. The Golden Eagles received votes with a 6-1 record so far.
Wisconsin dropped five places to 17th today in the new men's college hockey poll from U.S. College Hockey Online. The Badgers were swept for a pair at top-ranked Minnesota this past weekend, in the inaugural weekend for the new Big Ten men's hockey conference. Wisconsin dropped to 4-5-1 overall. Minnesota is 11-2-1. Saint Cloud State is second, followed by Michigan. In the College Online women's poll, Wisconsin remains second behind the Gophers. The Badgers are 12-2-2 following a win and a tie at Minnesota-Duluth over the weekend. Duluth is one spot away from the Top-10 rankings. In Division III, the Saint Norbert men dropped from first place to second in their new poll, with a record of 9-1. Unbeaten Plattsburgh moved up from third-to-first. UW- Stevens Point is fourth in the new poll, and Eau Claire seventh. River Falls received votes. In the Division III women's poll, Superior is sixth and the Pointers seventh. River Falls also received votes. Plattsburgh remains the women's No. 1.
All of Wisconsin's major college basketball teams are off tonight. Only one game is scheduled in Division III. The Maranatha Baptist men are at home in Watertown against Roosevelt University. The Division I schedule is slim all week, as players get ready for their final exams of the first semester. The Big Ten-ACC Challenge will be played this week for both the men's-and-women's teams. The Wisconsin men will play at Virginia on Wednesday night, while the Badger women host Boston College on Thursday evening.
UW-Green Bay men's basketball guard Keifer Sykes was named this morning as the Horizon League player-of-the-week. Sykes, a junior, scored 20-or-more points in all three games the Phoenix played at the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage. He had 23 points in a win over Pepperdine, a game-high 26 in a loss to Harvard, and 25 in a victory over Tulsa in which he surpassed a-thousand career points. This is the second time this season that Sykes was given the Horizon League's weekly honors. He shared the award with Steve McWhorter of UW-Milwaukee two weeks ago. Also, the Horizon League named Valparaiso guard Lexus Williams as the new Freshman-of-the-Week.
Just two days after beating Boston, the Milwaukee Bucks are getting ready to face the Celtics again tomorrow night -- this time, at TD Bank Garden. Milwaukee ended an 11-game losing streak on Saturday night with a seven-point home win over Boston. Much of the credit goes to the Bucks' two youngest forwards, rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo from Greece and second-year pro John Henson. The 18-year-old Antetokounmpo had 10 points and seven rebounds on Saturday. He played just over 40 minutes in his previous two games due to injuries to Caron Butler and Ersan Ilyasova. Antetokounmpo has long arms, and the Celtics' Jared Sullinger says he knows how to use them. Bucks' coach Larry Drew said Antetokounmpo's skill level is higher than what you normally see in a rookie. Henson had his first double-double on Saturday night, with a season-high 13 rebounds and 13 points against Boston.