Notable games before the New Year include home matchups with Big East foes Xavier and Marquette, as well as a November tournament with Baylor, Creighton, and UCLA. The Badgers will also travel to Charlottesville, Va. after Thanksgiving for their Big Ten/ACC Challenge contest with Virginia. Wisconsin defeated the Cavaliers 48-38 in 2013 as part of the same challenge.
Included in Wisconsin's crowded schedule are its semi-annual games against fellow UW schools, Milwaukee and Green Bay. Milwaukee knocked off the Badgers 68-67 at the Kohl Center in their most recent matchup in 2015.
As for the Big Ten schedule, Wisconsin will face its usual opponents, but a few games will occur a tad earlier.
The Badgers have two Big Ten games - home against Ohio State and at Penn State - that will slide into the middle of their non-conference schedule.
The reason? The Big Ten is moving their conference tournament to Madison Square Garden this season, but because the Big East has the rights to MSG for its own conference tournament on the week of Selection Sunday, the Big Ten will have to play its tournament the week prior. This scheduling quirk forced the conference to start its season slightly earlier than usual.
According to the Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy, the Big Ten coaches preferred two conference games thrown into the non-conference portion, rather than starting the entire Big Ten season early. This alleviated "schedule congestion" and allows students to see Big Ten games before winter break, DeCourcy said.
Even with nearly three months remaining until the season tips off, the February stretch run already appears crucial for the Badgers. Wisconsin's final five games are all against 2017 NCAA Tournament teams, with four of the contests at the Kohl Center. It is a big break to have a back-loaded, home friendly schedule for coach Greg Gard's young squad, which should be rounding into form late in the season. The Badgers lost four starters from last year's Sweet 16 squad.