With Wisconsin moving to the Big Ten Hockey Conference next season, the Badgers' schedule is going to have a significantly different look than in years past.
Wisconsin will play 20 league games against Big Ten members Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Minnesota. The remaining portion of the schedule will be made up of 14 non-conference games against various teams. We've known those teams for a while, but the university officially released the names of those non-conference opponents on Monday.
Next season, the Badgers will host former WCHA foes Colorado College and Alaska Anchorage at home. They will also host Northern Michigan, Lake Superior State and Alabama Huntsville. Wisconsin will also travel to Miami, and to Boston for one game each against Boston University and Boston College.
While Wisconsin hasn't released dates of games yet, certain schools and conferences have schedules out already. This is what we've pieced together so far in terms of the Badgers' schedule in 2013-14.
11-12: Northern Michigan (home) -- Non-Conference
18-19: Boston College/Boston University (road) -- Non-Conference
1-2: Lake Superior State (home) -- Non-Conference
15-16: Miami (road) -- Non-Conference
29-30: Minnesota (road) -- BIG TEN
13-14: Colorado College (home) -- Non-Conference
27-28: Alabama Huntsville (home) -- Non-Conference
3-4: Alaska Anchorage (home) -- Non-Conference
7-8: Minnesota (home) -- BIG TEN
20-22: BIG TEN TOURNAMENT (Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn.)
Remember that these dates are still subject to change. We're not sure yet when the Big Ten will release its schedule, but I don't anticipate that coming for at least a little while yet. Presumably, they have to figure out what they want to do with TV for the Big Ten Network games first before making the schedule final.
As Andy Baggot of the Wisconsin State Journal reported recently, all games will be played either Friday, Saturday or Sunday. That should alleviate the worry about games during the week.
Baggot does note that there may be a couple games scheduled in the afternoon. Given that the Big Ten schedule is going to be back-loaded into the second half, I wouldn't worry too much about Wisconsin hockey games competing with the NFL on Sunday afternoons. I also can't see a team playing more than one or two games on a Sunday next season.
I've already heard complaints about not seeing North Dakota on the schedule for next season. Remember that Wisconsin has a tentative four-year agreement in place to play North Dakota starting with the 2014-15 season. The North Dakota series may not be played four years consecutively, but they do have a tentative four-year agreement in place starting with Wisconsin hosting UND in 2014-15.
The agreement with the Boston schools will be similar to one that Wisconsin has tentatively set up with Colorado College and Denver. Season one (2013-14) will see the Badgers travel to Boston to play both teams each one night, while one of the Colorado schools will come to Madison for a full series. Year two (2014-15) will see the Badgers travel to Colorado to play both teams one night, while one of the Boston schools will come to Madison for a full series. Teams will then flip-flop for years three and four.
Wisconsin also has a four-year agreement with Northern Michigan in place starting in 2013-14. Wisconsin will host NMU next season and in 2015-16, and Northern will host Wisconsin in 2014-15 and 2016-17. The games Northern Michigan hosts will take place at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
I know that Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves would also like to get a deal worked out with Minnesota-Duluth at some point, but I'm not sure how close they are to reaching an agreement.
Here are a look at tentative future non-conference opponents.
2014-15: HOME--North Dakota, Michigan Tech, Boston University
ROAD--Denver/Colorado College (one night each), Northern Michigan (In Green Bay)
2015-16: HOME--Denver, Northern Michigan
ROAD--North Dakota, BC/BU (one night each)
2016-17: HOME--North Dakota, Boston College
ROAD--CC/Denver (one night each), Northern Michigan (In Green Bay)
2017-18: HOME--Colorado College
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