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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Wisconsin goes in the favorite vs. South Carolina

ORLANDO, Fla. - Despite its lower ranking, No. 19 Wisconsin is a one-and-a-half point favorite to beat eighth-ranked South Carolina in tomorrow's Capital One Bowl.  

Gamecocks' defensive end Chaz Sutton calls that a slap in the face.  He says 10-2 South Carolina deserves a lot more respect than it's getting right now.  Badgers' senior linebacker Chris Borland said he didn't think 9-3 Wisconsin could be favored in this game.  He said the Badgers are determined to give the seniors a bowl victory, after losing the last three Rose Bowls.  Wisconsin has not won in the post-season since 2009.  The Badgers will be the designated road team on the neutral field in Orlando.  And South Carolina fans are expected to dominate the stsands.  They've sold almost 9,300 tickets for the game, while the UW sold 3,600 through the UW Athletic Ticket Office.  With family members and such, Wisconsin expects to have around 5,000 people in the stands -- plus those who buy tickets on their own.  The Capital One Bowl 58,000 for tomorrow's game.


Milwaukee Bucks' forward-and-center John Henson did not make the team's trip out West.  He'll miss the next three games -- including tonight's contest against the Lakers in Los Angeles -- with a lingering high ankle sprain.  Henson was injured December 20th when he tripped while running down the court at Cleveland.  He sat out the following game before playing last week against Charlotte and Brooklyn.  Henson missed Saturday night's home loss to Minnesota. The second-year pro filled in at center while Larry Sanders missed almost two months with thumb surgery that resulted from a nightclub brawl in early November.  The 6-11 Henson is averaging 12-and-a-half points and eight rebounds in 28 games, including 14 starts.  Bucks' coach Larry Drew expects Henson to be out for about two hours, but the player hopes to be back sooner.  In the meantime, Sanders will start at center.  Tonight, the Bucks will play a struggling Lakers' team that has lost five straight in the absence of the injured Kobe Bryant.


Marquette University's men's basketball team will play its first men's basketball game in the new Big East Conference tonight at Creighton.  Coach Buzz Williams says his Golden Eagles will run into a buzzsaw at the Century-Link Center in Omaha, where a fired-up crowd is expected for a 9 p.m start in the final hours of 2013.  Creighton is 10-2 with a five-game winning streak.  Doug McDermott, the Big East pre-season player-of-the-year, is the nation's second-leading scorer with almost 25 points a game.  McDermott said he remembers how fired up the home crowd was last March when he scored 41 in Creighton's Missouri Valley Conference finale -- a win over eventual Final Four team Wichita State.  Eighteen days later, Creighton officially joined the re-organized Big East along with Butler and Xavier.  Marquette figures to be Creighton's biggest rival in the new league.  They've played each other 76 times, but not since 1998.  Williams says his players have been talking about Creighton's pumped-up atmosphere -- and they know how McDermott can light things up, so they'll be ready.  Unranked Marquette comes in at 8-5, after losing four starters from a team that reached the NCAA's Elite Eight.  Still, they have two solid front-court players in Davante Gardner and Jamil Wilson -- both seniors who've combined to average 25 points and 11 rebounds. 


The Marquette University women's basketball team will host Villanova this afternoon in a Big East match-up.  The Golden Eagles won their inaugural game in the re-organized conference last Saturday, 61-59 over Butler.  Marquette is 10-2 overall.  Senior Katherine Plouffe leads the Eagles with averages of 18 points and 11 rebounds per game.  Katie Young is almost averaging a double-double with 13-and-a-half points and nine-point-seven boards.  Villanova comes in at 9-2 overall.  The Wildcats dropped their Big East opener to Creighton, 65-58.  Devon Kane leads Villanova with 11 points per contest.  The game starts at noon at the Al McGuire Center on the Marquette campus in Milwaukee.  Tonight, the Golden Eagle men open their Big East season at Creighton.


Wisconsin remained at No. 4 in the AP men's basketball media poll -- and they moved up one spot to fifth in the USA Today coaches' poll.  The Badgers are 13-0 after crushing Prairie View A&M 80-43 this past Saturday in Madison. They'll open Big Ten play on Thursday night at Northwestern.  Undefeated Arizona remains No. 1 in both polls.  


The tip-off for Sunday night's University of Wisconsin men's basketball home game against Iowa has been pushed back by a half-hour.  It will start at seven o'clock at the Kohl Center, instead of 6:30.  The move was announced yesterday, after we learned that the Green Bay Packers will host San Francisco at 3:40 Sunday afternoon in an NFC playoff game.  The time change should allow fans to follow both games.  The Big Ten Network is televising the Badger contest.  Meanwhile, Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes was named the Big Ten's Freshman-of-the-Week yesterday.  He was honored for his 10-point, four-rebound performance in Saturday's 37-point Badger home rout of Prairie View A&M. Hayes also had three blocked shots, two assists, and a steal in that game.


The University of Wisconsin women's basketball team came back from 10 points down late in the second half to beat UW-Green Bay last night, 65-61 in overtime.  The Badgers trailed most of the way.  They were down 49-39 with 5:01 left when they ended regulation with a 16-6 run, capped off by Nicole Bauman's three-pointer with one second left which sent the game to overtime.  Green Bay scored the first four points of the extra session -- but the Badgers caught up, and they went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line in the final minute while holding the Phoenix scoreless.  Michala Johnson led Wisconsin in scoring with 22 points.  Four Green Bay players scored in double figures, led by Breannah Ranger with 15.  The Phoenix dropped to 6-5.  The Badgers improved to 7-5, and they beat all three of their in-state rivals for the first time in five seasons.  The Green Bay women will host Maine tomorrow.  Wisconsin is at Illinois on Friday.


Three University of Wisconsin wrestlers finished in the Top-six in their weight classes at the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships yesterday in Evanston, Illinois.  Tyler Graff was fourth at 133-pounds.  Issac Jordan -- the only Wisconsin grappler to enter the second day undefeated -- lost three matches and finished sixth at 157.  Scott Liegel also took sixth at 174.  The Badgers placed eighth among 47 teams, with 62.5 points.  Iowa was the winner with 187.5.


A Green Bay native is returning to his home area to coach the Saint Norbert College football team.  Steve Opgenorth was recently named to replace Jim Purtill, who resigned in late November as the winningest football coach in Green Knights' history over 15 seasons.  The 32-year-old Opgenorth spent the last two years as the offensive-and-recruiting coordinators at Colby College in Waterville Maine.  Opgenorth graduated from Green Bay Southwest High School, and was a 2005 graduate of Winona State in Minnesota.


UW-Stevens Point, the nation's top Division III men's basketball team, will play at North Central of suburban Chicago this evening.  The 10-0 Pointers are on their way home from Las Vegas, where they beat Whitworth and Whitman in the Classic.  North Central is 7-3.  Many of today's other D-III men's games are part of holiday tournaments.  Wisconsin Lutheran plays Concordia-Chicago.  UW-River Falls takes on Northland.  Eau Claire faces Northwestern College of Minnesota.  La Crosse plays Gustavus Adolphus.  And Lakeland has a men's-and-women's double-header at Finlandia in Upper Michigan.  In other women's contests, UW-Superior plays Saint Scholastica of nearby Duluth.  And Stout takes on Colorado College.


Austin Stueck of the Milwaukee School of Engineering and Brooke Negus of Edgewood College of Madison are the basketball players-of-the-week in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference.  Stueck, a sophomore forward, made four shots from three-point range in MSOE's overtime win over La Verne.  He scored a game-high 21 points.  Negus, a sophomore forward, won the women's weekly honor.  She scored a career-high 12 points with five rebounds and two steals off the bench for Edgewood in a one-point loss to Millikin.


Six Wisconsin schools made the Division III Top-100 in the Learfield Sports' Directors Cup standings through the fall sports seasons.  All six are WIAC institutions.  They get points according to their national finishes in the various sports.   UW-Whitewater tied for 22nd, after winning the national D-III football title for the fifth time in seven years.  The Warhawks also received points in women's soccer and volleyball.  La Crosse is tied for 32nd, Stevens Point 36th, Oshkosh 61st, Eau Claire 86th, and Platteville tied for 97th.  Williams College of Massachusetts leads the D-Three Directors Cup standings with 376 points.  Middlebury of Vermont is second.


The U.S. is playing Canada today in its final preliminary round game at the World Junior Championships in Sweden.  The Americans have already earned a spot in the playoffs, by going 3-0 in pool play.  Team Canada is at 2-1. UNiversity of Wisconsin forward Nic Kerdiles had a goal and an assist in the Americans' most recent game on Sunday, an 8-0 shutout of Germany.  Sun Prairie native Will Butcher of Boston College also scored in that contest.


The University of Wisconsin men's hockey team moved up one place to 13th this afternoon in the weekly poll from U.S. College Hockey Online.  The Badgers had a two-game home sweep of Alabama-Huntsville this past weekend, 5-nothing and 3-2.  Wisconsin has now won straight games, with its best home record ever since the Kohl Center opened.  Mike Eaves' Badgers are now 9-0-1 at home, and 10-5-1 overall.  Minnesota still tops the men's Division I poll at 12-2-2.


Milwaukee Admirals' goaltender Scott Darling was named today as the American Hockey League's player-of-the-week.  Darling, a rookie, went 2-0 in three games last week with a point-45 goals-against-average and a .985 save percentage.  Darling had a shutout yesterday in a 4-nothing Milwaukee victory at Iowa.  He now has three shutouts this season, the most in the league.  Darling is 7-1 overall, with a one-point-43 goals-against-average after he signed in September with Milwaukee.


The Wisconsin boys' prep basketball player-of-the-year from last season has withdrawn from Indiana University, and is expected to transfer.  6-11 forward Luke Fischer was a standout at Germantown High School, where he was named Wisconsin's "Mister Basketball" and the Gatorade player-of-the-year in 2013.  Hoosiers' coach Tom Crean said the team did not want Fischer to leave, but he said the freshman was looking for a quote, "different fit."  Fischer was expected to help fill the void left by the early departure of Cody Zeller to the pros.  Fischer played in all 13 games this season for Indiana, averaging 10 minutes a night with around three points and two rebounds per game.  He had 10 points and three blocked shots against Kennesaw State on December 22nd.



In men's college basketball...

UW-Whitewater 85, Edgewood 53

UW-Eau Claire 65, Northland 41

UW-River Falls 79, Northwestern College of Minnesota 75

Plattsburgh State 62, UW-Stout 40

Saint Norbert 70, Viterbo 63

Ripon 85, Otterbein 61

Milwaukee School of Engineering 84, Occidental 82

Carroll 64, Linfield 51

Concordia-Wisconsin 88, Finlandia 64

Redlands 62, Beloit 61

In women's college basketball...

Wisconsin 65, UW-Green Bay 61 in overtime

Ohio Northern 68, UW-Whitewater 67

UW-Stevens Point 71, Rust 67

Connecticut College 64, UW-Eau Claire 59

Luther 63, UW-River Falls 61

UW-Superior 71, Northland 45

Carroll 70, Spalding 58

Wisconsin boys' high school basketball

Algoma 51, Manitowoc Lutheran 40

Argyle 66, Juda 60

Crivitz 63, Bonduel 55

Darlington 48, Pecatonica 47

Eleva-Strum 40, Augusta 37

Greendale 71, Greenfield 51

Kimberly 57, Sheboygan South 52

North Fond du Lac 35, Kewaskum 32

Owen-Withee 52, Stratford 42

Portage 56, Wisconsin Dells 39

Wild Rose 63, Adams-Friendship 50

Girls' high school basketball

Appleton North 76, North St. Paul 26

Belmont 58, Hazel Green Southwestern 22

Cedar Grove-Belgium 47, Manitowoc Lutheran 41

Green Bay NEW Lutheran 52, Crivitz 35

Hillsboro 28, Seneca 19

Mayville vs. Hustisford, canceled

Mineral Point 51, Fall River 48

Notre Dame 63, Fox Valley Lutheran 39

Sheboygan North 48, Appleton West 24

Verona 56, Madison Edgewood 32

Westosha Central 47, Palmyra-Eagle 41

Wisconsin Dells 48, Portage 45

Wittenberg-Birnamwood 45, Rhinelander 31

Boys' high school hockey

Onalaska 6, Sun Prairie 1

Girls' hockey

Schwan Cup-Red Division

North Metro, Minn. 3, Sun Prairie 2

Northfield, Minn. 5, Hudson 1