Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Trying to Switch Gears a Bit


Part of me almost wishes that we could just be in a continued state of celebration in light of the Packers Super Bowl victory, and never have to worry about another thing again. I'd like to stay on this pinnacle and never come down from this high, but as I'm realizing all too well this week life must still go on. We'll have the Super Bowl victory to celebrate forever, but the moment is passing and soon our conversations will be centered around some of the other teams that we love, particularly the ones here in Wisconsin. With the way things are going though, that might not necessarily be a bad thing.

Its been easy to associate Wisconsin sports with heartbreak especially as of late, but perhaps the tide is turning as the result of the Packers championship. If you've been on the Brewers website lately, you've seen countless articles about their players hoping to emulate the Packers success, and they are confident that they have the team to do it. The acquisitions of Zach Greinke and Shawn Marcum have only fueled that fire. It's only a couple of weeks until pitchers and catchers report, and before you know it the grills will be fired up at Miller Park. It seems impossible to think about that now as we're still on a Super Bowl high, but if anyone can help us it's the man who broke the news of the Greinke trade, Jim Breen of Bernie's Crew. Breen released a podcast on Wednesday that should allow us to start getting in Brewers mode. Check it out over at Bernie's Crew, which features an interview with catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

But the Brewers are still a couple of months away from playing meaningful baseball. In the meantime, we have plenty of basketball to get excited about. The Wisconsin Badgers appear to be having the most promising season, currently sitting at 17-5 with a 7-3 clip in the Big Ten. They rank number 13 in the AP Poll and 14 in the ESPN/USA Today Poll, climbing a few spots as a result of a 26-point win over Michigan State on Sunday that was clearly overshadowed by the Super Bowl. Bucky has a tough stretch of games coming up now with Iowa tonight at 7:30pm, and then #1 Ohio State and #12 Purdue in the next week. The way that they have been playing, they could potentially win all three of these contests. Hitting their jumpers is the key to their success, and we'll see how it plays out over the next seven days.

If you're more into Marquette, however, things haven't been going as well as you might have liked this season. The Golden Eagles currently sit at 14-9 with a 5-5 record in the Big East, and even though they could be considered one of the best first-half teams in the country, their inability to close out games has been their achilles heel this season. Their season started to look promising with a win over Syracuse last week, but then they went right back out and dropped a game to Nova. They seem to be a bubble team in every sense of the word, but ESPN.com's Andy Katz currently has them as an eight seed if the season ended today. The meat of their schedule is really now behind MU, with just two games left against ranked opponents, those being Georgetown and and UConn. You'd like to see them win one of those games, but as long as they can keep beating the teams they are supposed to, I don't worry when it comes to Marquette making the Big Dance.

The team we might need to be worried the most about right now is the Milwaukee Bucks. They couldn't have looked worse against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night in the Bradley Center, but they did rectify that loss a bit with a 92-74 win over the Raptors on Tuesday night. Both games should have been wins in reality, but the Bucks will take what they can get at this point. Currently, the Bucks sit at 20-30 in the East, yet somehow sit just 1 1/2 games out of the eighth seed in the conference. With how bad Milwaukee has been playing of late, I'm not sure they'll make it to the playoffs, but their schedule is just so weak the rest of the day it's almost as if they don't have a choice but to make it and eventually lose to either Boston or Miami in the playoffs. For the time being, the Bucks have a very winnable game tonight in Washington, a Friday night affair in Memphis (of which I'll be in attendance!), and then they return to the BC to take on Indiana on Saturday night. Anything less than two wins in those three games is unacceptable.

What this post is trying to establish is that there are still plenty of other teams to root for, even though myself is not personally ready to do that yet. But who knows? Maybe 2011 will turn out to be an exceptionally great year for Wisconsin sports, and not just the Packers. We already had the Badgers in the Rose Bowl (even though they lost) and they looked primed for further success come this fall (even though TCU has turned down an apparent rematch). Who knows how well these basketball teams can do, and of course the optimism has never been higher in Milwaukee for the Crew. I'm not sure that any of these teams will be able to bring me the joy that I'm feeling about the Packers right now, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

That's what being a fan is all about.

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