Lower expectations + Mertz incoming = good news for Badgers in 2019
FOX Sports Wisconsin
Wisconsin football (↑ UP)
The Badgers finished their 2018 season weeks ago and when the final AP Top 25 poll came out Wisconsin received … 2 votes (placed at No. 24 by one voter). A tough way to finish a year in which it started out No. 4. But wait, we're giving the Badgers an up? Yes, because in looking ahead to 2019, most prognosticators see UW as a top-25 team, although more in the middle-to-late range, which is usually a good thing. Seems like when Wisconsin is rated highly before a season, it disappoints, but when not thought of as much, exceeds expectations. Either way, despite a tough 2018, people seem to think 2019 will see better days ahead for the Badgers. Oh, and incoming quarterback Graham Mertz set an All-American Bowl game record with five touchdowns and was named the game's MVP. Yup, trending up seems right.
Thon Maker, Bucks forward (↑ UP)
Maker didn't play in Milwaukee's game against Toronto and the Bucks lost. On Monday, he played 18 minutes against Utah and had one of his best games as a pro, helping Milwaukee come back and beat the Jazz. He had a season-high 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go with five rebounds and two steals. As usual, Maker provided a lot of energy. Brook Lopez said he sparked the crowd and the team, which fed off it. Giannis Antetokounmpo straight out said, "We won the game because of him."
David Stearns, Brewers general manager (↑ UP)
Keon Broxton was a fine fourth or fifth outfielder for Milwaukee. He has some pop, can steal a base and plays good defense. He also owns a .221 career batting average, strikes out 36.6 percent of the time and wasn't going to start for the Brewers with Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich around (as well as Ben Gamel, Hernan Perez and Eric Thames). Yet somehow Stearns managed to get not one, not two, but three prospects from the New York Mets in a trade for Broxton: Reliever Adam Hill, a fourth-round pick in 2018; second baseman Felix Valerio, who just turned 18 in December and hit .319 in the Dominican Summer League; and reliever Bobby Wahl, who struck out 14.6 batters per nine innings in the Triple-A last season. Well done.
Wisconsin basketball (↓ DOWN)
The Badgers have lost two of their last three, including a home loss to rival Minnesota last week, and dropped out of the AP Top 25. Things don't get easier for Wisconsin, which hosts an always tough Purdue team Friday, is at 13-3 Maryland on Monday and then hosts current unbeaten and No. 2 Michigan next Saturday.
Mary LangenfeldMary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports
Matt LaFleur, Packers head coach (➡ EVEN)
Reviews seem to be mixed about the new Green Bay boss, both from fans and pundits. After two straight missing the playoffs, the Packers want back in (and LaFleur could make a little Green Bay history if he can pull that off). Surely there will be a honeymoon period for LaFleur, but it will be brief. LaFleur won't coach in a game that counts for nine months
D.J. Wilson, Bucks forward (↓ DOWN)
Wilson started getting a lot of playing time Dec. 17, after Ersan Ilyasova went down with an injury, and did pretty well -- averaging 5.7 point and 6.1 rebounds while also posting a positive box score +/- in every game during this span. Ilyasova returned Jan. 4 and Wilson's playing time has diminished from 22 minutes to nine to being inactive this past Monday against Utah. Well, it was a good ride while it lasted.