On January 8, 2014 the Badger men’s basketball team defeated Illinois to win its sixteenth consecutive game to start the 2013–14 season. The streak ended six days later with a loss at Indiana (and then Michigan, and Minnesota … but never mind all that). Still, sixteen wins was long enough to break the university’s previous, century-old record for best start to a season. The 1913–14 squad, under coach Walter “Doc” Meanwell, won all 15 of its games. Here’s a look back at a few things you may not know about the streak.
- Over their 16 wins, the Badgers scored a total of 1,222 points. That’s more than the UW scored in all of its first six seasons. The Badgers wouldn’t top 1,200 points total until the third game of their seventh year, a 45-28 win over Sheboygan on December 27, 1904.
- Before losing to Indiana, the Badgers had beaten the Hoosiers 12 consecutive times. But their all-time record versus Indiana is 63-94.
- Meanwell’s 1913–14 streak didn’t end at the close of the season. His 1914–15 team kept rolling through its first nine games, giving them 24 straight wins. It ended with a loss to the University of Chicago, 24-19, on January 23, 1915. The Badgers’ 24th game this season will be against Michigan State on February 9.
- That wasn’t the UW’s — or Meanwell’s — longest run of good play. In Meanwell’s first season, 1911–12, his Badgers also went 15–0, and then won the first 14 games of the 1912–13 season, a 29-game streak. The spoiler, once again, was the University of Chicago, which defeated the UW 23-10 on March 7, 1913. This year’s Badgers will play their 29th game on March 2 against Penn State.
- Meanwell coached at the UW from 1911 to 1934, except for a stretch from 1917 to 1920, when he was at the University of Missouri. After the 1934 season, he retired from coaching to practice medicine in Madison.
- Meanwell’s record as the UW’s coach was 246-99 (a winning percentage of 71.3%). Bo Ryan, so far, is 160-60 (72.7%).
- Meanwell won eight Big Ten championships. Bo Ryan, so far, has won three.
- The Badgers’ top scorer during the streak was Sam Dekker, who averaged 14.3 points per game. In the UW’s first year playing basketball (1898–99), the entire team averaged 14.3 points per game.
- If you stood all of this year’s Badger players on end, they’d stand 103 feet, 3 inches tall. That’s 18 feet taller than the Carillon Tower.
- They’d weigh 3,318 pounds — half the weight of the Carillon’s heaviest bell (6,823 pounds).
- It would take nearly 16 Doc Meanwells to reach the top of the Carillon. He stood only five-foot-six.
- Of the 16 players on the Badgers’ roster this year, six come from Wisconsin; nine more from the Midwest (Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois and Iowa); and one comes from California (Jordan Hill).
After Doc Meanwell's winning streak, it would take Wisconsin another 27 years to win their first — and to date, only — National Championship. Brooks Conrad x’42 was there, and he shared this story with Badger Insider Magazine.