On Thursday morning, Wisconsin women’s basketball’s Big Ten Conference opponents were released for the 2022-23 campaign, as well as their home/away designations. This is important, because you don’t play each team twice during the season and a favorable draw with your “one-off” opponents can lead to a better record come March.
In the home-only slate, Badgers fans were blessed with a treat, as several top teams will be coming to Madison. Headlining the games exclusively played at the Kohl Center are Ohio State, Michigan, and Maryland, last seasons’ first, third, and fourth place finishers in Big Ten play respectively.
- The Buckeyes return the vast majority of their regular season title-winning core, including all-conference first teamers Jacy Sheldon and Taylor Mikesell, and are primed for another big year.
- Michigan also brings back a lineup loaded with experience, including seniors Emily Kiser and Leigha Brown. The Wolverines will have to mitigate the loss of WNBA-bound Naz Hillmon, last years’ team leader in points, rebounds, and minutes per game, but they should remain a strong competitor for the Big Ten crown.
- Maryland is the most interesting case of the top teams in this group. Though the Terrapins put together an impressive 2021 campaign, their two leading scorers in Angel Reese and Ashley Owusu both entered the transfer portal following the season. Head coach Brenda Frese has put together elite teams in College Park for two decades now (her career winning percentage is a staggering .777), but it will be fascinating to see how she reloads her squad for 2022.
The away-only set of games for Wisconsin is headlined by a trip to Bloomington, Ind. to face the Hoosiers. Fresh off a Big Ten title game appearance and a Sweet Sixteen run in March Madness, head coach Teri Moren has the program in its best spot so far in her career. The Hoosiers are hungry for more, and return an experienced tandem in Grace Berger (No. 34 below) and Mackenzie Holmes to lead the way.
Matchup aside, Assembly Hall is one of the best venues in the country to catch a game and should be a great experience for a Badgers team that may still be finding their feet in the second year of Marisa Moseley’s tenure.
Rounding out the schedule is the slate of five teams Wisconsin will play both home and away. Most notable in this group are defending Big Ten Tournament champions Iowa, who bring back one of the sports’ biggest stars in guard and certified-flamethrower Caitlin Clark. Clark and the Hawkeyes in Madison has the potential to produce one of the Badgers’ best-attended games all year.
Rutgers was a fortuitous pickup on the home/away schedule for Wisconsin, with the program bringing in a new coach looking to start a rebuild in Coquese Washington. The Scarlet Knights struggled last year, posting a 3-14 record, and it’s possible things worsen this year as Washington looks to build her own roster and identity. With Wisconsin looking to fight their way out of the bottom of the pack in the Big Ten standings, the pair of games against Rutgers could prove to be valuable opportunities to pick up wins.
In short, Marisa Moseley’s second schedule as Wisconsin coach provides plenty of challenges but also plenty of opportunities to grow the program and roster. A slate of three home games against some of the best the Big Ten will have to offer should provide the chance for the team to not only pull off an upset, but also get fans into the stands that hopefully will become consistent attendees.
A manageable road slate — six of Wisconsin’s nine away games will come against teams that finished seventh or lower in last year’s Big Ten standings — provides plenty of hope that year two under Moseley could be one of continued improvement upon last year and where the program was before she arrived.
Wisconsin women’s basketball’s full Big Ten schedule:
Home only: Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State
Away only: Indiana, Nebraska, Penn State, Purdue
Home & away: Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Rutgers