Wisconsin is fresh off a terrific season which featured a second consecutive year making it to the Final Four under Bo Ryan. Despite the fact that Ryan lost a solid chunk of his scoring in Sam Dekker and graduating seniors, the Badgers should still be looking dangerous heading into next season. Whether or not they can match the success they've had the last two years is still up in the air, but success in conference play will be a huge indicator. Here is a look at Wisconsin's Big Ten Schedule next season. You can see the full schedule on ESPN.
Maryland vs. Wisconsin
The Badgers will likely be facing a top 5 team when the Maryland Terrapins come to town on January 6th. Just four games into the conference slate of the season, this will be a huge test for the Badgers, and a win would give them loads of momentum heading into the rest of the season. While there is no way to know for sure if Maryland will live up to its potential, it's pretty safe to say that they be able to give Wisconsin a run for its money, even in Madison. These two teams only met once last year, and Maryland was able to take down Wisconsin in College Park by a slim 6 point margin. This year, these teams will meet twice, and when they clash, it will be a showdown to watch.
Purdue vs. Wisconsin
In most years past, Big Ten fans would consider this an easy matchup. Purdue comes into Madison, gets shut down, and we all move on with our lives. But Purdue has been a team that's had success in Madison over the last decade. If you can remember when Purdue marched into the Kohl Center and upset then 8th ranked Wisconsin on their own floor, then you know what I'm talking about. With the dominance that the Boilermakers are going to have in the paint, expect this to be a huge matchup. Oh and did I mention? This will be Wisconsin's Big Ten Home Opener.
Wisconsin @ Michigan State
Last year, Wisconsin was able to fend off the Spartans both times these two teams met. Wisconsin won 68-61 at home during the regular season, and it took overtime to take down Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament Championship. This year will feature new players on both sides of the court and some returning veterans who know how intense these matchups can be. This one will be another classic battle of Izzo and Ryan, and it will certainly be one that you should tune in for.
The toughest stretch of Wisconsin's Big Ten Conference schedule is arguably the one in which they it face off against Indiana, Maryland, Northwestern, and Michigan State in a matter of two weeks. This stretch of the season starts on January 5th and concludes on the 17th. A game at Indiana will prove tough for Badgers, as the Hoosiers' backcourt will likely give Wisconsin's a tough time. As mentioned above, the home game against Maryland may be the biggest one of the season for Wisconsin, and a win at home against the Terrapins would be a huge momentum builder. The Badgers then travel to Evanston to face a Northwestern team that's slowly beginning to legitimize itself in the Big Ten. Finally, the Badgers conclude this brutal stretch with a home game against Izzo's always-difficult Michigan State Spartans.
Rutgers vs. Wisconsin
This game for the Badgers lies right between the Big Ten Opener against Purdue and the difficult stretch mentioned above. While it seems that a home game against the Scarlet Knights should be an easy win, you can't count out Rutgers, as they found a way to take down Wisconsin despite finishing at the bottom of the Big Ten last season.
Wisconsin @ Nebraska
While it seems unlikely that the Badgers would ever lose this game, you never know with the way Tim Miles's Cornhuskers play at home. This matchup is right before an away game against Maryland, so it would benefit Wisconsin greatly to take care of business in Lincoln.
Illinois vs. Wisconsin
Given Illinois' misfortune with injuries, it seems unlikely that it would be fit to have a dominate season, so Wisconsin should cruise to an easy victory when the Illini come to town. This game is a crucial one to win because it lies right in the middle of an away stretch where the Badgers face Maryland, Michigan State, and Iowa on the road.
Unlike last season, Wisconsin is going to have its work cut out for it in the Big Ten Conference, as it will face some powerhouse teams in some crucial games. If Bo Ryan can continue to have success in Madison, then look for the Badgers to get some huge wins next season.