The Wisconsin Badger basketball team is looking to bounce back from yet again another disappointing end to their season in the NCAA Tournament last year.
While the Big Ten had an above average field of team success last year, succeeding in the non-conference area is what that Badgers will look to take from last season and bring it into the next. Last year the Badgers went 9-5 against non-Big Ten competitors and were able to see a wide variety of talent from their non-conference schedule.
After railing teams like Houston Baptist, Savannah State and Grambling State, Wisconsin saw some challenge from opponents like Xavier, Maquette, and the eventual NCAA National Champions in Virginia.
Non-conference success will be a key attribute to making waves come NCAA Tournament time, especially with the Big Ten looking to come back stronger than ever next season.
Wisconsin is scheduled to face off against eleven non-conference opponents so far, including participation in the Legends Classic Tournament held in Brooklyn. Some of the top non-conference rivals include NC State, Tennessee, Richmond, and in-state rival Marquette.
Both NC State and Marquette are returning matchups from last season.
The Badgers hosted NC State last year and will now travel to Raleigh for a rematch with the Wolfpack. Wisconsin was ranked No. 22 at the time and an NC State team that did not make the NCAA Tournament put up a fight. The final score was 79-75 Badgers. NC State returns all but two seniors.
Marquette is another repeat game from last season. The Golden Eagles hosted the Badgers in their newest home at Fiserv Forum Stadium in Milwaukee and handed them only their second loss of the season. This game proved to be a turning point in Wisconsin’s schedule, and not in a good way for Badger fans. Wisconsin will lose 69-74 and the loss would spark a downhill streak in the Badgers’ future.
Two other non-conference headlines come from Wisconsin playing Richmond in the Legends Classic Tournament and traveling to Tennessee.
The Legends Classic Tournament hosted in Brooklyn, NY this year will consist of Richmond, Wisconsin, New Mexico and one of last year’s final four teams, Auburn. While Richmond doesn’t pose much of a threat from a history standpoint, on paper, look for the Spiders to come in as underdogs and surprise the competition.
The final headline non-conference matchup comes in the Badgers traveling to Tennessee. The Volunteers are a tournament team from last season coming of off a sweet sixteen appearance. With both teams losing their star seniors in Badger Ethan Happ and Vol Admiral Schofield, both teams will be in search for their next man up and it will prove to be a beneficial matchup for both teams no matter the outcome.
Wisconsin will also face off against Saint Mary’s, Eastern Illinois, McNeese State, Rider and a slew of Wisconsin universities including La Crosse, Green Bay and Milwaukee.