The rest of the Badger sports schedule is full of even more intriguing matchups. Here are four you need to attend in Madison.
UW hosts Nebraska in Big Ten West showdown
While Wisconsin failed to take advantage of a pivotal opportunity to showcase its ability on the national stage, one more game looms on the Badgers’ schedule that could prove to be even more important.
With the Aug. 30 loss at the hands of LSU behind them, the Badgers have a smattering of soft non-conference matchups against the lower echelon of the Big Ten Conference lined up before its Nov. 15 kickoff against Nebraska.
The winner of this game will likely represent the West Division of the conference in the Big Ten Championship game three weeks later on Dec. 6. Nebraska and Wisconsin clearly stand apart from the rest of the division, both talent-wise and in their recent history of Big Ten success. Through three years in the Big Ten, Nebraska has amassed a 17-7 conference record under head coach Bo Pelini, including an appearance in the Big Ten Championship game against Wisconsin in 2012.
In 2012, Nebraska clinched a Sept. 9 contest in Lincoln, Neb. by way of a furious comeback that gave the Huskers a 30-27 victory. However the teams would meet again that year, with a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line.
The Big Ten Championship on Dec. 1 was a completely different story. It was all UW in Indianapolis, as the Badgers cranked out 640 yards on offense and rode Montee Ball’s 202 rushing yards and three touchdowns on their way to a 70-31 rout.
This year’s game marks the rematch of those 2012 games that have defined this budding rivalry. Both teams will be focused on the opportunity to earn a trip to the conference championship and possibly a right to play in the first College Football Playoff. Camp Randall Stadium will be buzzing for Nebraska week.
Duke comes to the Kohl Center in clash of potential top-five teams
The Wisconsin men’s basketball team will square up against Coach Krzyzewski and Duke on Dec. 3 at the Kohl Center, in what may be the most intriguing matchup on the Badgers schedule.
The game is part of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, as each Big Ten school is paired with an ACC school in a battle between two power conferences. The ACC won the first 10 challenges, but has not won since 2008.
The Badgers are looking to earn their second consecutive victory in the challenge, following a 48-38 win over Virginia a season ago.
Both teams are projected to be ranked in the top five to start the season, and this could be the case when they meet to headline the challenge in Madison.
UW returns almost every major contributor from its Final Four team, while the Blue Devils will be relying more on their younger talent. One player that the Badgers will undoubtedly have to prepare for is Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor, this year’s most highly touted freshman recruit.
The 6-foot-10 center out of Chicago has great finishing ability near the basket and isn’t afraid to put the ball on the floor.
The last time these teams met was in 2009 when the unranked Badgers upset the no. 5 ranked Blue Devils in Madison.
This matchup is just one of multiple potential tough matchups UW will have in its non-conference schedule this season, which includes possible games against UNC, UCLA and Florida in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
Volleyball national title rematch in UW Field House
It will not take another trip to Seattle for a national championship rematch. As the season begins, fans can circle Sept. 28 as a must-watch game of the year.
The Badgers, ranked sixth this year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, will host the Nittany Lions, ranked first by the AVCA, in a conference match at the Field House.
In the 2013 NCAA national title match, Penn State defeated Wisconsin in four sets. Head coach Russ Rose is entering his 36th year with the Nittany Lions this season.
Returning only four starters, Penn State welcomes eight newcomers to their team. Seniors setter Micha Hancock, middle hitter Nia Grant and libero Dominique Gonzalez, along with junior outside hitter Megan Courtney will guide their teammates throughout the Big Ten conference.
Badgers head coach Kelly Sheffield enters his second year with six returning starters. Wisconsin graduated their starting libero, Annemarie Hickey, but she returns as student assistant coach for the Badgers.
The team also welcomes two transfers to their roster, Romana Kriskova and Erin Juley. Kriskova played two seasons with Virginia Commonwealth University, while Juley started two seasons for Long Beach State.
This match does more than put the final two teams of 2013 in competition, it showcases the skill of the Big Ten conference. Last year’s NCAA national championship was the first ever Big Ten matchup.
Many past title matches have included one team from the Pac-12, which is historically a volleyball powerhouse. Yet, as programs like Wisconsin grow, the Big Ten has become progressively more competitive.
Penn State and Wisconsin will face a competitive schedule before facing each other at the end of September.
Badgers to face an old hockey foe in November
When college hockey realigned its conferences, the North Dakota-Wisconsin rivalry was given the chance to cool off, but only temporarily.
Wisconsin played UND only once last season in what was the most important game on the Badgers’ schedule.
In the NCAA Midwest Regional, unseeded North Dakota proceeded to shock the Badgers and the analysts by scoring three unanswered goals in the last 1:44 of regulation, knocking out No. 4-seeded Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
This season, Wisconsin will not have to wait long to meet its old rival once more. The Badgers’ first home series is Nov. 7 and 8 against North Dakota, a team that retained some of its best players for this upcoming season.
Forward Michael Parks, who led UND in goals and points last season, will return this year as a senior and an assistant captain.
Another asset up front for North Dakota is senior forward Mark MacMillan, the active leader in career assists and points. With Zane McIntyre returning to the cage boasting a .924 career save percentage, UND looks dangerous heading into winter.
Wisconsin graduated nine seniors in 2014, including its leading goal-scorer and setup man. Amid the less experienced roster is goaltender Joel Rumpel, who will enter his senior season as an established presence between the pipes.
Senior forward Joseph LaBate will likely lead the Badger offense and junior defenseman Kevin Schulze showed promise on the blue line last year for Wisconsin.
The true test for Wisconsin will be if its freshmen and sophomores can play on the level of the more experienced UND squad. If Rumpel is at his best, the Badgers could have a chance.