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“The first intercollegiate basketball game ever witnessed in Madison will be played Saturday in the gym vs. Purdue. Wisconsin recently beat Purdue on the road 34-14. Large bleachers will be erected by Coach Angell with a reserved section for ladies who wish to come unattended.”

Basketball First Big Ten Season

1905-06 was the inaugural season of basketball for what is now the Big Ten Conference. The Badgers were coached by Emmett Angell, who also played on the team. His career mark from the 1904-05 season through 1907-08 season was 43-15, a .741 winning percentage. His last two teams tied for Big Ten titles.

The 1905-06 team played five home games and won them all, including a 2-0 forfeit by Illinois. The Badgers swept Purdue and Illinois, and split games with Minnesota and Chicago. Outside the conference, they beat Lawrence, Armour Institute, Menasha, Oshkosh Normal, Manitowoc, and Co. C of Hudson. Minnesota finished first in the conference with a 7-1 record; the Badgers were second at 6-2 (12-2 overall).

Among those games was a 31-15 victory over Purdue. As reported in the Wisconsin State Journal on February 2, 1906: “The first intercollegiate basketball game ever witnessed in Madison will be played Saturday in the gym vs. Purdue. Wisconsin recently beat Purdue on the road 34-14. Large bleachers will be erected by Coach Angell with a reserved section for ladies who wish to come unattended.”

The prior season, the Badgers played 18 games, including a nine-game tour of the East. That team was led by Christian Steinmetz, Sr., who was Wisconsin’s first All American and the Helms Foundation player of the year. He scored 50 points in one game. The well-traveled Badgers played games at Sparta; La Crosse; Sheboygan; Appleton; Oconto; Two Rivers; Columbus, Ohio; Rochester, New York; Schenectady; New York City; Newark; Sharon; Fremont; and Oberlin. Their record was 8-8.

Mark Gajewski