Pressure on Milwaukee Bucks Mounts as Wisconsin Sports Success Continues

Michael DulkaContributor IDecember 31, 2011

MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 07: The Bucks mascot entertains fans by dunking a basketball during a time out during the game between the Milwaukee Bucks against the Miami Heat at the Bradley Center on January 7, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Heat defeated the Bucks 101-95 in overtime. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

It's a good year to be a fan of Wisconsin sports teams. In of the best collective years Wisconsin sports has seen, the burden now falls to the Milwaukee Bucks to make noise in the NBA and push towards the playoffs after narrowly missing out last season.

The Green Bay Packers are coming off a Super Bowl victory in their 2010 season after blazing through the NFC playoffs and defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV. Continuing their success in 2011, the Packers extended their winning streak to 19 games before losing to the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 18. With the NFL season drawing to a close, the Packers carry the top seed into the playoffs looking to repeat as Super Bowl champs.

The Milwaukee Brewers followed up the Packers' success by winning their first division title since winning the AL East in 1982. By winning the NL Central crown, the Brewers were back in the playoffs following their appearance and quick exit in 2008 as a wild card. Behind Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun, the Brewers won their first playoff series since 2008 as they knocked out the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS before losing to the eventual Wild Series champion St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS.

When the Wisconsin Badgers landed transfer Russell Wilson, hopes slowly began to rise. After winning the starting job, Wilson led the Badgers offense to a hot start at 6-0, before dropping back to back games to Michigan State and Ohio State, both coming on last second heaves. Monte Ball destroyed defenses on his way to being named a Heisman finalist. The Badgers closed out the season strong, winning the first Big 10 Championship, and heading to the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2 to take on the Oregon Ducks.

As of the Dec. 26 AP Top 25 rankings for Men's college basketball, the state of Wisconsin has two teams in the top 15, with the Badgers ranked 11th and the Marquette Golden Eagles at 14th. Both teams are looking to continue their fast starts and make big statements in their respective conferences. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers are atop the Horizon league standings with a 3-1 conference record. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix are 2-1 in Horizon league play.

The great success that has found in the cheese state has led some to start referring to the state as "Win"sconsin. Throughout 2011, Wisconsin has been blessed to see plenty of wins in the NFL, MLB and college basketball. Now that 2012 is here, it is time for the Bucks to carry the load and keep the winning going.

Expectations are high for this Milwaukee Bucks team that missed the playoffs by two games last season. They built around the core of Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut and added scoring in Mike Dunleavy and Stephen Jackson.

While it is quite unlikely the Bucks go on to win the NBA Finals, it is not unreasonable to expect at least a playoff appearance and possibly a playoff run from the Bucks.

The Bucks will be challenged playing in an improved Central Division. The Chicago Bulls are back looking to build on their spectacular regular season last year behind the play of their MVP Derrick Rose. One of the hottest picks for a young and upcoming team, the Indiana Pacers are looking to be quite the force as they hope to return to the playoffs.

If the Bucks can make the playoffs, it would be the second time in the four years under Scott Skiles.