Wisconsin’s non-conference slate doesn’t lack for quality matchups
With Ben Brust being the lone departure from a team that won 30 games and reached the Final Four last season, the Wisconsin Badgers are one of the teams expected to contend for a national title in 2014-15. Friday afternoon the school released the non-conference schedule for the upcoming season, and it’s safe to say that the Badgers will be tested once they begin Big Ten play when the calendar flips over to 2015.
Among the games in front of Wisconsin is a home game against Duke on December 3 as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, and that will be their first game following the Battle 4 Atlantis. Wisconsin begins that eight-team event, regarded by many as the premier in-season tournament of the 2014-15 season, with a game against UAB on November 26 and things will only get tougher from there.
Wisconsin will play either Florida or Georgetown on the 27th, with Butler, North Carolina, Oklahoma and UCLA being on the other side of the Battle 4 Atlantis Bracket. The Tar Heels, Sooners and Bruins are all expected to return to the NCAA tournament in 2014-15, and the same can be said of a Florida squad that was the tournament’s top overall seed last year.
Other non-conference games for Wisconsin include road games at Marquette and Cal, and they’ll have two tough home games against Green Bay (which took them to overtime last season) and Boise State.
“Every year it’s our goal to put together a difficult non-conference schedule that will get us ready for Big Ten play,” head coach Bo Ryan said in the release. “Last season we played five teams in the non-con that ended up winning their conference. I think this year’s slate will be another challenging one.”
Wisconsin will play twice within the span of five days in Milwaukee, with their game at Marquette (December 6) preceding a game at Milwaukee on December 10. While Green Bay won the Horizon League’s regular season title in 2013-14 it was Milwaukee that won the conference tournament, earning the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
With forwards Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky back the Badgers will be regarded as the favorite to win the Big Ten, and under Ryan the program has finished in the top four of the Big Ten standings every year that he’s been in charge (since 2001).