Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - May 15, 2014

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74 // VARSITY May 15, 2014 NCAA hopes make Big Tens 'do or die' for Badgers UW looking for top finish to grab NCAA spot I t feels like déjà vu all over again for the Wisconsin women's openweight row- ing team, which heads to the 2014 Big Ten Championships this Sunday at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. Boats from seven schools will line up next to each other at the start for seven races, including one race in the var- sity eight, second varsity eight, varsity four, second varsity four, novice eight and second novice eight to crown this year's Big Ten champion. Last year, when Ohio State came out on top, the Buckeyes went on to win the conference's first NCAA title. Wisconsin hopes to end the day in position to hear its name next Tuesday when NCAA se- lections are announced for the 22-team field that will return to India- napolis at the end of May. It would be a step to becoming the second team in Big Ten history to win it all. The Badgers find themselves in a fa- miliar position, as they've peaked at Big Tens to grab NCAA invites in six con- secutive seasons and in nine of the last 10 years. Ohio State and Michigan, who have also made regular appearances at recent NCAA championships are the top two seeds, but upstart Indiana has joined the Big Ten elite this season and is a ma- jor obstacle if UW hopes to get back to NCAAs for a seventh-straight time. The Hoosiers upended UW's top boat on the first day of the Clemson Invite in mid-April, though the Badgers respond- ed on the second day in a big way, tak- ing out IU and some of the nation's other top crews one day after dragging behind most. Nearly a month will have passed since that confidence-building perfor- mance. "We started out a little bit rocky. We raced before we really practiced, and that's our reality," UW head coach Bebe Bryans said. "This is the best team we've ever had on paper. So that's pretty excit- ing for us. It's a young team. I have one senior in the varsity eight. I have two sophomores in the varsity eight that walked on this team last year. "I'm really optimistic that this crew is going to bring what they can do." SCHEDULE OPENWEIGHT Sunday at Big Ten Championships May 30-June 1 at NCAA Championships LIGHTWEIGHT May 30-June 1 at IRA Championships INSIDE WOMEN'S ROWING BY PAUL CAPOBIANCO @BADGERROWING

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