Jan. 8: Thompson out, Gutekunst in as Packers GM
After 13 seasons as general manager of the Packers, Ted Thompson was nudged into retirement and replaced by one of his lieutenants, Brian Gutekunst. The changes didn’t end there, however.
Team president Mark Murphy restructured the front office, with Gutekunst, coach Mike McCarthy and salary-cap maven Russ Ball all answering to him, a risky departure from the system that had delivered an unprecedented 25-year run of success in Green Bay.
Jan. 25: Brewers remake their outfield in one day
Brewers general manager David Stearns went deep twice in a span of hours, trading several elite prospects for right fielder Christian Yelich and signing center fielder Lorenzo Cain to a 5-year, $80 million free-agent contract.
It was the biggest one-day talent haul for the Brewers since they acquired Rollie Fingers, Pete Vuckovich and Ted Simmons in a trade with St. Louis in 1980.
Along with holdover Ryan Braun, the new guys gave the Brewers baseball’s best outfield.
Feb. 22-24: Wisconsin puts stamp on Winter Olympics
The Wisconsin-infused USA women’s hockey team beat arch-rival Canada 3-2 on penalty shots for the gold medal in South Korea, avenging losses in the finals of the previous two Olympics.
Former UW stars Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan and Alex Rigsby and Madison native Amanda Kessel played for Team USA, with Knight scoring a goal in the final and Kessel scoring one of the USA’s three goals in the shootout.
Two days later, the U.S. men’s curling team scored five points in the eighth end to put away heavily favored Sweden in the final. McFarland’s Matt Hamilton became a social-media sensation while leading Team USA to victory.
March 2: UW’s 19-year NCAA tournament run ends
After losing four seniors, UW figured to struggle with an inexperienced cast surrounding big man Ethan Happ. Then guards D’Mitrik Trice and Kobe King were lost for the season after 10 games and UW limped home with a 15-18 record.
The Badgers did make a late-season surge, but a 63-60 loss to second-ranked Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals left them without an NCAA tournament bid for the first time since 1998.
April 3: Yelich and Braun stun Cardinals
In the season’s fifth game, the Brewers trailed long-time nemesis St. Louis by a run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
In a sign of things to come for what would turn into one of baseball’s most surprising teams, Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun hit back-to-back home runs off the Cardinals’ Dominic Leone for a 5-4 walk-off victory and a 4-1 start to the season.
May 17: Veteran Budenholzer named coach of Bucks
After firing Jason Kidd during a disappointing 44-win season that ended with yet another first-round playoff failure, the Bucks turned to Mike Budenholzer, whose successful teams in Atlanta relied heavily on 3-point shooting and defense.
Budenholzer’s style would be a perfect fit for the Bucks, who won their first seven games to establish themselves as a title contender, and for Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose new-found freedom in Budenholzer’s well-spaced offense made him the early favorite for the NBA’s MVP award.
June 24: AmFam tournament has leaderboard to die for
Hometown favorites Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker shot 7-under-par 65s on the final day, but neither could catch champion Scott McCarron in the third-annual AmFam Championship at University Ridge.
The star-studded leaderboard ended with McCarron at 15-under, Kelly at 14-under and Stricker, Colin Montgomerie and defending champion Fred Couples at 13-under.
More important, the seniors tournament raised almost $2.1 million for local charities, a 27-percent increase over 2017.
Aug. 20: UW football team fourth in preseason poll
With almost every offensive starter back from a 13-1 team that ended up seven points short of a berth in the College Football Playoff, expectations soared for UW. It was ranked fourth in the AP preseason poll, matching the 2000 team for the school’s highest-ever starting spot.
The Badgers never lived up to those expectations as the offense sputtered all season en route to a 7-5 record that included losing possession of Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the first time since 2003.
Sept. 9: Hobbled Rodgers leads comeback versus Bears
After being carted off with a left-knee injury in the second quarter of the opener, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers emerged from the locker room for the second half to cheers from the Lambeau Field crowd.
Despite playing virtually on one leg, Rodgers threw three touchdown passes in the second half as the Packers overcame a 20-0 deficit for a thrilling 24-23 victory over the Bears.
Sept. 22: UW rallies past Iowa on road
Highlights were few and far between for the Badgers this season, but scoring two touchdowns in the final minute for a 28-17 victory at Iowa was the biggest.
Alex Hornibrook was 5-for-5 on a 10-play, 88-yard drive that began with UW trailing 17-14 and ended on a 17-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Taylor with 57 seconds left.
After a T.J. Edwards interception, Alec Ingold ran 33 yards for a touchdown with 22 seconds left.
Sept. 26: Brewers clinch postseason berth
It took some luck, but the Brewers’ 2-1 victory over St. Louis completed a three-game road sweep and clinched their first playoff berth since 2011.
Down a run, the Cardinals looked like they would tie it up on a Brewers error in the eighth. At least they did until pinch runner Adolis Garcia fell for no reason while rounding third base and was easily thrown out at the plate.
Oct. 1: Brewers beat Cubs in playoff, win division
After running down the National League Central Division-leading Chicago Cubs by winning nine of their last 10 games, the Brewers clinched the division title with a 3-1 victory over the Cubs in a one-game playoff at Wrigley Field.
Orlando Arcia went 4-for-4, Lorenzo Cain singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth, Jhoulys Chacin allowed one hit in 5 2/3 innings and relievers Corey Knebel and Josh Hader allowed one hit over the final three innings as the Brewers relegated the Cubs to the wild-card game, which they also lost, much to the delight of Brewers fans.
Oct. 19: Brewers force Game 7 in NLCS
Before the most electric crowd anyone could remember at Miller Park, the Brewers humbled the Dodgers 7-2 to send the National League Championship Series to a seventh game.
Jesus Aguilar had two of Milwaukee’s five doubles and Corey Knebel, Jeremy Jeffress and Corbin Burnes pitched 4 2/3 innings of hitless ball out of the bullpen for the Brewers, who had swept Colorado in the NLDS and were looking to eliminate the defending NL champion Dodgers.
Alas, it wasn’t to be as the Brewers ran out of gas the next night, with a 5-1 loss to the Dodgers leaving them one agonizing game short of their first World Series since 1982.
Oct. 19: Bucks open Fiserv Forum with win
Though few noticed because the Brewers were playing Game 6 across town at the same time, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 points, 15 rebounds and five assists as the Bucks christened their new $524 million arena with a 118-101 victory over Indiana.
Khris Middleton added 23 points and the Bucks fired up 46 shots from 3-point range (making 17) in going 2-0 to start the season. They then pushed that to 7-0, declaring early that they had finally come of age.
Nov. 6: Happ’s triple double leads Badgers
As Kohl Center fans looked for signs of a bounce-back season in the UW men’s basketball team’s opener against Coppin State, senior Ethan Happ stole the show, notching the second triple double in school history.
Happ had 10 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in UW’s 85-63 victory, joining Josh Gasser as the only Badgers players to accomplish the feat. The performance propelled UW to a 10-2 start against a schedule loaded with teams from power conferences, an early indication that last season was an aberration for UW’s proud program.
Nov. 16: Yelich named National League MVP
Newcomer Christian Yelich was a landslide winner of the NL Most Valuable Player Award, earning 29 of 30 first-place votes and beating runner-up Javier Baez of the Cubs by a wide margin.
Yelich hit .326 with a .402 on-base percentage, 36 home runs and 110 RBIs in his breakthough season. He set a franchise record by hitting for the cycle twice in one season and was particularly effective during the pennant race.
In 65 games after the All-Star break, he hit .367 with a .449 OBP, 25 home runs and 67 RBIs.
Nov. 17: McDonald wins NCAA cross country title
The Badgers’ Morgan McDonald redshirted in 2017 so he could finish his senior season in the NCAA men’s cross country championship at UW’s home course.
McDonald made that decision pay off in a big way, pulling away from top-ranked Grant Fisher of Stanford down the stretch to win the individual title before a large, vocal crowd at the Thomas Zimmer Championship Course.
Dec. 2: Packers fire McCarthy during season
Just hours after a dismal 20-17 loss to woebegone Arizona at Lambeau Field dropped the Packers’ record to 4-7-1, team president Mark Murphy unceremoniously fired coach Mike McCarthy.
By then it was clear McCarthy’s message had grown stale and his 13th season in Green Bay would be his last, but it was still shocking that the Packers made him the first coach in franchise history to be fired during the season, especially since he had compiled a 125–77–2 record and had won one Super Bowl.
Dec. 21: Howard goes off for 45 again
Guard Markus Howard scored 40 of his 45 points in the second half, powering No. 20 Marquette to a 103-85 victory over No. 14 Buffalo. Howard was 9-for-13 from 3-point range against the previously unbeaten Bulls.
Three weeks earlier, Howard sank 19 of 21 free throws and finished with another 45-point game in Marquette’s 83-71 victory over No. 12 Kansas State.
Dec. 21: Bucks snap losing streak in Boston
The Bucks had lost six consecutive games in Boston − four coming in a seven-game playoff series in April − but hit the Celtics with a 16-0 run in the first quarter and rolled to a 120-107 victory behind Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 30 points.
The win gave the Bucks a 22-9 record, their best start since 1990-91 season and the second-best mark in the NBA.