What were the stories that shaped Wisconsin sports in 2017? Here are the top 10 as voted on by the FOXSportsWisconsin.com staff.
Others receiving votes
Not making the cut but garnering votes (in order of total):
-- Packers WR Jordy Nelson named NFL's Comeback Player of the Year
-- Badgers beat previously unbeaten Western Michigan 24-16 in the Cotton Bowl, finish No. 9 in AP poll
-- Marquette beats No. 1 Villanova, first win vs. top-ranked team since 2003 Elite Eight
-- Badgers have 2 players (Ryan Ramczyk, T.J. Watt) declare for NFL Draft for first time since 2011
Tie: Bucks' Jabari Parker tears ACL for second time in three years; Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor has one of best freshman rushing seasons in NCAA history
In his second full season after tearing his ACL as a rookie, Parker was having a breakout year, averaging 20.1 points per game. However, all that came to an end when he blew out his knee again in Phoenix on Feb. 8. On the flip side, Taylor, a true freshman, quickly established himself as the Badgers' starting running back after a couple of injuries paved the way for an opportunity. He became Wisconsin's bellcow, totaling nine 100-yard rushing games (including three over 200) and with 1,847 yards is poised to set the NCAA record for a freshman in the Dec. 30 Orange Bowl.
The Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo starts 2017-18 season with 4 straight games of 30+ points
There was a lot of excitement and anticipation for Antetokounmpo heading into his fourth NBA season, and he quickly set the tone that he wasn't about to disappoint. Right off the bat, Giannis put his name into MVP consideration as he scored 37 points in Milwaukee's season-opening win over Boston, then followed that up with games of 34, 44 and 32 points. Antetokounmpo hasn't let up, scoring 30+ points in 12 of his first 30 games.
The Brewers' Eric Thames has record-setting April, hitting 11 home runs
Thames returned to MLB from Korea, where he hit 124 home runs in three seasons, winning an MVP and becoming the first player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a season. But how would he fare in return to the majors, where he had not played since 2012? The Brewers signed the 30-year-old to a three-year contract and promptly saw Thames, who was beloved in Korea, quickly become a cult hero in Milwaukee after bashing 11 home runs in April, including eight against the Cincinnati Reds. Thames hit six homers during a five-game streak from April 13-17 and twice had a two-homer game (both against the Reds, one on the road, one at home). He'd finish the season leading the Brewers in slugging percentage (.518) and tied in home runs (31). Cue the theme song! Eric Thames, crush that ball … oh oh oh oh oh oh oh …
Bucks pull off trade for guard Eric Bledsoe
When the opportunity to pick up a dynamic guard, Milwaukee struck. The Bucks sent Greg Monroe and protected first- and second-round draft picks to Phoenix to acquire Bledsoe, who quickly fit into Milwaukee's offense. In his first 22 games with the Bucks, Bledsoe is averaging 18.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game. It's no coincidence that Milwaukee, which is 13-9 since Bledsoe's arrival, has reached 100 points in each of its last 16 games as well.
NBAE/Getty ImagesTroy Taormina
Malcolm Brogdon wins Rookie of the Year; Giannis named most improved
After playing four years at Virginia, Brogdon fell all the way to the second round of the NBA draft, No. 36 overall, where he was selected by Milwaukee. It didn't take long for Brogdon to become a part of Jason Kidd's regular rotation and a contributing member of the Bucks. Brogdon would finish the season averaging 10.2 points and 4.2 assists and would be the first second-round pick in NBA history to be named the league's top rookie. Meanwhile, while always an exciting player, teammate Antetokounmpo had a breakout year, averaging 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.6 steals while shooting 52.1 percent from the field -- all of which were career highs -- to become the first Milwaukee player to be tabbed most improved. Next up: MVP.
Giannis Antetokounmpo first Bucks player to start in NBA All-Star Game since 1986 and first voted in since 1984 and scored 30 points
It's been a while since Milwaukee had a player which captured the nation's attention but "The Greek Freak" certainly has done that, as evidenced by his being voted in a starter for the All-Star Game. Antetokounmpo didn't just sit on his laurels. He ended up being the high scorer for the East, with 30 points on 14-of-17 shooting while adding six rebounds, three steals an assist and block. We have a feeling this won't be Antetokounmpo's last appearance in the mid-season game.
Pool PhotoPool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
Brewers remain in playoff hunt until second-to-last day of season
Milwaukee was supposed to be in rebuild mode and not expected to challenge for a spot in the preseason -- just ask all of the preseason prognosticators. But fueled by some key acquisitions (Eric Thames, Travis Shaw), some players having breakout seasons (Chase Anderson, Jimmy Nelson, Domingo Santana) and discovering an overpowering closer (Corey Knebel), the Brewers stayed in the pennant race throughout the summer and up until the penultimate game of the season. The playoffs were just out of reach, but it doesn't diminish a special year.
Noah K. MurrayNoah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Packers' Jared Cook makes improbable catch and Mason Crosby hits last-second FG to beat Dallas in NFC Divisional playoff
One of the best moments in Wisconsin sports in 2017 occurred early in the year. On Jan. 15 in an NFC playoff game, Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay to an improbable victory. With time running out on the Packers and facing a third-and-20, Rodgers, while on the run, hit Cook by the sideline, with the tight end going to his knees and keeping his feet inbounds while sliding to make a 36-yard reception. The play set up Crosby, who made a 51-yard field goal as time expired to give Green Bay an amazing 34-31 win.
Kevin JairajKevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Rodgers breaks collarbone in Week 6 at Minnesota, returns in Week 15
The state of Wisconsin has never been quieter than when after Rodgers was tackled hard to the ground by Minnesota's Anthony Barr and had to leave the game. The result was a broken collarbone, sending Rodgers to injured reserve and the Packers into a tailspin. Green Bay was 4-1 heading into the game with the Vikings, which they would end up losing -- as well as six of the next nine, all but one with Brett Hundley at quarterback. Rodgers would return for one game, a loss to Carolina, but he didn't seem completely healthy. In effect, Green Bay's season all but came to an end on the U.S. Bank Stadium turf.
Badgers go 12-0 in regular season, reach No. 4 in playoff rankings
You only can play who is on your schedule and Wisconsin beat all 12 foes they faced in the regular season, which included wins over Florida Atlantic, Northwestern, Iowa and Michigan. Led by a strong defense, running back Jonathan Taylor and a versatile receiving group, the Badgers ended up with their first undefeated season in over 100 years and finished the regular season with among the top-four teams in the college football playoff rankings. The playoff dream would come to an end with a loss in the Big Ten championship, but it was a regular season to remember.