If you thought starting conference play in early December was silly, the Big Ten took it one step further in 2018-19.
The men’s basketball slate will tip off on Nov. 30 with two games, one of which involves the University of Wisconsin playing at Iowa. The Badgers play their Big Ten home opener three days later against Rutgers at the Kohl Center.
The Big Ten released its entire conference schedule on Tuesday and UW also released its non-conference games, though one game has yet to be finalized. The Badgers are waiting for a contract to be returned before announcing the opponent for a Dec. 13 home game.
The Big Ten is going to a 20-game conference schedule for the first time this season. UW will wrap up Big Ten play on March 10 at Ohio State.
Highlights of the Badgers’ conference slate include home games against Purdue (Jan. 11), Michigan (Jan. 19), Maryland (Feb. 1) and Michigan State (Feb. 12).
UW went 15-18 overall last season and 7-11 in Big Ten play, missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years. The Badgers return all five starters and several top reserves from that team.
Senior center Ethan Happ flirted with leaving to start a professional career but decided to return for one more season. He enters his final campaign on pace to become the program’s all-time leader in rebounds and also is projected to finish high on the scoring list.
UW also welcomes back three players who dealt with injuries in 2017-18. Sophomore guard Brad Davison had offseason shoulder injury and is on schedule to be ready for the start of practice in September.
Meanwhile, sophomore point guard D’Mitrik Trice (foot) and redshirt freshman wing Kobe King (knee) also are expected to provide a lift after missing all but 10 games last season due to injury.
Sophomore Trevor Anderson, who sat out last season after transferring from UW-Green Bay, and true freshman Tai Strickland should help provide depth at point guard.
Shon Morris, a Big Ten Network analyst, said on the network’s show analyzing the schedule release that his favorite to win the Big Ten is Michigan State. He listed as the Badgers as his “under the radar” team.
UW officially opens the season with a game against Coppin State on Nov. 6 at the Kohl Center.
The rest of November is full of tests, including the game at Iowa to end the month.
The Badgers travel to Xavier on Nov. 13 as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games.They open the Battle 4 Atlantis, a three-day event in the Bahamas, Nov. 21 against Stanford. UW’s side of the bracket also includes Florida and Oklahoma, with Virginia, Middle Tennessee State, Butler and Dayton filling out the eight-team field.UW hosts North Carolina State on Nov. 27 as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
UW’s 15-game home schedule during the regular season includes five games on Saturday, three each on Tuesday and Thursday, and two each on Monday and Friday.
Times and television information will be announced at a later date.