A big part why the Wisconsin Badgers made their Final Four run a year ago was because of being tested early on with a difficult non-conference schedule. Although this year’s Badger non-conference schedule does not provide as much difficulty as the last, it does provide some interesting match ups.
Below is the 2014-15 Badgers non-conference basketball schedule:
|11/14/14||vs. Northern Kentucky||Kohl Center||TBA|
|11/16/14||vs. Chattanooga||Kohl Center||TBA|
|11/19/14||vs. Green Bay||Kohl Center||TBA|
|11/22/14||vs. Boise State||Kohl Center||TBA|
|11/26/14||vs. UAB-Battle 4 Atlantis||Bahamas||TBA|
|11/27/14||vs. Florida/Georgetown-Battle 4 Atlantis||Bahamas||TBA|
|11/28/14||TBA-Battle 4 Atlantis||Bahamas||TBA|
|12/3/14||vs. Duke||Kohl Center||TBA|
|12/6/14||@Marquette||BMO Harris Bradley Center||11:30 a.m. CT|
|12/10/14||@UW-Milwaukee||UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena||8:00 p.m. CT|
|12/13/14||vs. Nicholls State||Kohl Center||TBA|
|12/22/14||@California||Haas Pavilion||8:00 p.m. CT|
|12/28/14||vs. Buffalo||Kohl Center||TBA|
Wisconsin’s first four games are in the comfort of the Kohl Center. They won’t travel until Thanksgiving weekend when they play in the Battle 4 Antlantis tournament. Wisconsin will take on UAB in the first round, but have the potential for a rematch against the Florida Gators and could take on either UCLA or North Carolina, among others. Taking home the championship would really kick-start this season for Bo Ryan and his squad.
But a showdown with Duke in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge is what most Badger fans have circled on their calendars. As it is in most years, Duke will be another favorite Final Four team and will be a very strong test for the Badgers. It’s very well-known that Wisconsin has virtually everyone back from last year’s team, including possible NBA Draft Lottery picks Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky. The Blue Devils lost some talent a year ago, but have their third leading scorer Quinn Cook back for his senior season. Not to mention head coach Mike Krzyzewski has two phenomenal freshmen coming in, Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor. This could be one of the most anticipated games in the entire season.
After Duke there is no time to take a breather. The Badgers travel to Milwaukee for their next two games, first taking on Marquette. As the old cliche goes, you can throw the records out the window when these two teams meet. Even though Wisconsin leads the all-time series 65-55, they are just 7-6 since Ryan took over in 2001. It will also be our first real look at Marquette’s new head coach Steve Wojciechowski.
From 1999-2001 Ryan coached the UW-Milwaukee Panthers. After Marquette that’s who the Badgers will play as they annually do. That all-time series record is very one-sided. As in the Badgers have not lost to the Panthers since 1992, Wisconsin’s only loss to Milwaukee. This one should be no different.
The final Badgers non-conference game of importance before the Big Ten schedule begins is a tilt with the Cal Golden Bears. This is the second part of the home-and-home series between these two teams, with the Badgers winning the first meeting against the Bears 81-56 in 2012. The top returning scorer from last year’s team is junior Tyrone Wallace, who averaged 11.3 points per game. Sophomore Jabari Bird is also back and will look to improve on his 8.3 points per game from a year ago. Wisconsin takes on another newly hired coach as Cuonzo Martin left Tennessee for the west coast and California.
Even though this year’s non-conference schedule is not as challenging as last year’s, there are still some tough games that will test the Badgers. But all of these games will prepare Wisconsin to make another run at a Final Four.