As 2021 comes to a close, many are reflecting on the best moments of their years. In Wisconsin, sports fans were treated to some amazing moments this past year. Here, we highlight what the best five moments in Wisconsin sports were, whether they happened with Marquette, the Badgers, Bucks, Brewers, or Packers.
#5- Marquette Hired Shaka Smart
It has been a very long time since the Marquette men’s basketball team has been relevant. For years, fans had been calling for a changing of the guard at head coach. Steve Wojciechowski only made two NCAA tournaments in his tenure. Each time, Marquette failed to make it out of the opening round.
In March of 2021, the Golden Eagles hired Shaka Smart as Wojo’s replacement. Just three games into his tenure, Marquette upset then 10th ranked Illinois. At 8-5, Marquette is not quite back to complete relevance yet. However, the future is finally looking bright for a program that had gone downhill over the past several years.
#4- The Emergence of Braelon Allen as Wisconsin’s Number One Running Back
The Wisconsin Badgers football team had its fair share of ups and downs this season. From Jalen Berger transferring to Chez Mellusi’s injury, it seemed as if a once promising running back room was going to under perform. Enter Braelon Allen. The 17-year old (yeah… we know) rushed 168 times for 1,268 yards and 12 touchdowns. In the Las Vegas Bowl on December 30, Allen rushed 29 times for 159 yards. Wisconsin is known for churning out fantastic running backs. Jonathan Taylor, after all, is a top contender for the NFL MVP Award. Braelon Allen is next in that line of running backs, and Wisconsin fans have a lot to look forward to with him over the next few years.
#3- Dan Vogelbach Walks Off the Brewers via a Grand Slam
In 2021, the Milwaukee Brewers made the postseason for the fourth year in a row. Many fans could not have pictured this kind of consistent postseason appearances just a decade ago. Now, the Brewers have a team that is consistently putting together wins on the field. Corbin Burnes won the Brewers’ first Cy Young Award since 1982. It was a season full of ups and downs, as they all are, but one moment sticks out in the minds of many.
There is no baseball like September baseball, and the Brewers have had many magical moments in that month under Craig Counsell. That trend continued this season early in September. With the Brewers down three runs in the bottom of the ninth on September 5, Daniel Vogelbach came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. He launched a 1-0 pitch into right-center to give the Brewers a 6-5 victory. The win brought the Brewers to 84-54 on the season.
Milwaukee would go on to finish the season 95-67 and lose to the eventual champion Atlanta Braves in the Divisional Round. Though the ultimate goal of a World Series was not realized this season, there were many special moments, and this tops them all.
#2- Rasul Douglas Picks Off Kyler Murray to Defeat Cardinals
When the Green Bay Packers went down to Arizona to face the Cardinals, Arizona was the lone undefeated team remaining with a record of 7-0. The Green Bay Packers, meanwhile, were down their top three wide receivers, David Bakhtiari, Jaire Alexander, and many other key contributors. Green Bay led late in the fourth quarter, but the Cardinals were marching down the field.
With 12 seconds left in the game, Kyler Murray threw to AJ Green in the end zone. Douglas intercepted the pass, cementing the win for the Packers. Since then, Douglas has added four more picks, returning two of them for touchdowns, and making him one of the best midseason pickups of the Brian Gutekunst era.
Honorable Mentions: Brett Favre’s record being broken; the San Francisco 49ers game
#1- The Milwaukee Bucks Win the NBA Championship
Was there any doubt what the number one moment in Wisconsin sports would be this year? Led by Giannis Anteteokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA title in 50 seasons. Down 0-2 in the Finals, the Bucks came storming back to win the next four games. In Game Six, Giannis dropped 50 points to bring home the Larry O’ Brian and Finals MVP. And to think he had hyperextended his knee just a couple of weeks earlier, and many wondered if he would even be able to play in this current season. That is what legends are made of, and that was the crowning moment of 2021 in Wisconsin.
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