As the month of May continues to rage on, June is suddenly on the horizon. Each year around early June the schedules and matchups are set up for the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
The 2020 season marks 22 years of the faceoff between the two conferences in basketball, and there have been some phenomenal games as a result in non-conference play. Overall the Big Ten has only won six of the matchups outright over the course of the Challenge, and the Badgers have a 10-11 record during that span.
With that in mind, here is a list of the potential teams that the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team could face next season ranked based on the level of intrigue while taking into account recent history and strengthening the body of work accrued by playing in the game.
15) Boston College
The Boston College Eagles haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since Al Skinner left town in 2010.
With a decent amount of returning production coming back and some mid-major transfers joining the fold, the Eagles could be a bit better than last season, but overall BC doesn’t bring a lot to the table in terms of intrigue. While this game would likely result in a victory for Wisconsin, it doesn’t really move the needle for the selection committee or, anyone for that matter.
14) Wake Forest
Head coach Danny Manning was about the only thing that Wake Forest had going for them, and he was just let go.
Unless Chris Paul slips onto the court in a retro Wake jersey, this is a game the Badgers want no part in.
While Clemson has been improved the past few seasons under Brad Brownell, they are still so-so in terms of the college basketball landscape. The Badgers have never played the Tigers before which would bring about something new, but in general this would be a pretty big dud of a game in terms of excitement.
12) Virginia Tech
Another team that really couldn’t do much last season, the Hokies will probably be better than their .500 record from a year ago.
That being said, Virginia Tech is a football school, and Wisconsin wouldn’t have much to gain from playing them. Wisconsin beat them in 2017 led by Bronson Koenig, and I would have to wager they would do it again if they saw one another in 2020.
The Badgers have never played the Miami Hurricanes in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but that is about the only thing that differentiates them from Virginia Tech and Wake Forest on this list.
Miami has been under .500 each of the past two seasons, and the Badgers could probably benefit from playing a higher profiled team.
Another team that the Badgers have not played during the history of the challenge, the Pittsburgh Panthers have been a very different team since relieving Jamie Dixon back in 2016.
Oh and come to think of it, his last game as a coach came in an ugly loss to Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament that season. While that is interesting to think about, mostly because the Badgers won that game scoring 47 points, there are better matchups to be had. You can relive the game in the highlights below.
9) NC State
This is probably a game that a lot of Badger fans don’t want to see on the schedule. Wisconsin has played NC State three times in the last 10 seasons, including the past two years in which the teams split the series.
While this game is alright in terms of credibility and competitiveness, there might be a little fatigue with playing the Wolfpack so frequently in the past few seasons. If you feel like reliving the loss of this past season, have at it below.
8) Georgia Tech
I am going to preface this by saying I by no means want Wisconsin to face-off with Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets have historically been a pretty bad the past 10 seasons, but they could be in store for a good year in 2020-2021. Josh Pastner returns most of his squad from last year, including Mike Devoe who is an NBA caliber player.
Georgia Tech could be a NCAA Tournament team next year, so while that bolsters their intrigue level, they still don’t inspire true enthusiasm in me at least.
The Syracuse Orange are another team that the Badgers have seen fairly frequently in recent years. Both teams have been tremendously successful over the past two decades, and have seen each other on the hardwood often because of that.
Wisconsin beat the Orange in 2015 and in 2016, helping them hold a 2-1 record in the history of the series.
We won’t discuss the Wisconsin loss in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, but overall I think this game would get a slightly above average star approval.
6) Florida State
Florida State has been extremely good the past four seasons. Last year might have been their best team ever, but they also lost some of their top playmakers. Leonard Hamilton is a great coach, and uses a lot of different players, so they still return a lot, but this game doesn’t offer the drama that some others pack.
Florida State would be a fun game, but in terms of brand recognition and a historical grudge to latch onto, this isn’t up to par with some of the potential opponents ranked higher on this list.
Then again, Trevon Hughes did hit a buzzer-beater to upset the Seminoles back in 2009.
For sure. 12-5 upset with Wisconsin being on the right side of it. https://t.co/qYgSpb1Mjh pic.twitter.com/BdIi4XIBe1— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) March 13, 2020
Ok so hear me out. Wisconsin fans have some understandably strong feelings towards Virginia given the connection with Tony Bennett, but these two teams have played a lot over the past 10 years.
Wisconsin has played Virginia four times since 2012, losing three of the four matchups. Virginia plays a very similar brand of basketball as Wisconsin, and should have a wealth of talent back next season.
A game against Virginia would be great, especially with the added wrinkle of Joey Hauser (or Sam Hauser, who can be sure?) suiting up for the Cavaliers, but the recent number of games and lack of success make this game a bit less appealing.
Additionally, the last three games have all come with the victor scoring less than 54 points, not exactly high scoring excitement.
4) North Carolina
After a tough season last year, North Carolina could bounce back if their young recruiting classes live up to the hype.
The Tar Heels would be an exciting game in that they have the name recognition that generates buzz, while also providing some intrigue with so many question marks.
Overall, North Carolina would be a fun game. The Badgers haven’t played them in the challenge since 2011, and the last two times these two teams met Wisconsin took them down in the Sweet-16 in 2015, and got beaten handily in Maui back in 2016.
A potential big win over one of the most historic brands in the country would be welcomed.
3) Notre Dame
Notre Dame might not be at the top of the heap in terms of conference standing next season, but I have to think a couple seniors on next years team (and Greg Gard for that matter) would have some interest in this game.
The Fighting Irish took down Wisconsin in the 2016 Sweet 16, mere months before D’Mitrik Trice and Aleem Ford stepped on campus.
The Badgers made a magical run late that season under Greg Gard after Bo Ryan surprisingly retired earlier in the year.
However, Wisconsin was cut down short in the Sweet 16, and a little revenge would be nice in this situation.
Two of the better teams in the country on paper for 2020, Wisconsin hasn’t faced Louisville since 1978.
The contest with Louisville would be a lot of fun given the high success for each program, and the caliber of play on the court. This game does not have some of the bad blood in fans memory banks that some of the other teams might bring up, but a new matchup could be compelling and fresh.
You just said it didn’t you...
The time honored saying that starts with F and ends with Duke.
The Blue Devils (and some interesting officiating) stole a potential national title from of the grasp of the Badgers in 2015, and that sting still hasn’t gone away for many Wisconsin fans.
No one on either current roster actually played in that game, but best believe Greg Gard remembers, and the the players on the current team know all about it.
A game versus Duke would be exhilarating, and it would definitely be some sweet revenge if they were able to get the win. Recruits might want to be in attendance for that one, and I know I would.
After all, the Badgers took down Duke in the Kohl Center back in 2009 with College GameDay in town (one of the most fun games I have ever been to at the Kohl Center) and I would be happy to see that again.
Which team would you like to play?
This poll is closed