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Wisconsin hockey: Badgers enter scheduling agreement with Ferris State

In addition to playing at Ferris State next season, the Badgers will play a series at North Dakota and travel to face BU and BC one game each.


Who says Wisconsin doesn't travel?

According to a release on Tuesday, Wisconsin has entered into a two-year scheduling agreement with Ferris State. The Bulldogs will come to Madison this fall when they lock up with the Badgers Nov. 28-29. Additionally, Wisconsin will travel to Big Rapids, Mich., to take on Ferris State in its building for the first time ever next season, Oct. 23-24, 2015.

"We're excited to face Wisconsin in Madison this coming year and having them return to Big Rapids the following year for the first time will be fun for our fans," said Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels. "It certainly will be yet another challenge, but we've prided ourselves on facing some of the top teams in the country on a yearly basis and this will be another such foe."

Ferris State isn't a name many think of as a national power, but the Bulldogs have been especially strong the past two seasons. Last season FSU won the WCHA regular season title and two seasons ago the Bulldogs earned a trip to the Frozen Four before falling to Boston College in the title game.

Since UW's schedule for the upcoming season has already been released, we knew the Bulldogs were coming to Madison in November. The somewhat surprising news was the fact the Badgers will be making a return trip on a 1-for-1 deal in 2015.

Wisconsin has been criticized by the college hockey peanut gallery from around the country for not traveling enough in the past, despite the fact UW typically plays the same number of home games as any other elite program. More specific is the gripe the Badgers refuse to travel to non-premier locations. The agreement to travel to play Ferris State should silence some of the critics, at least for the time being.

Possibly even more surprising is the fact Wisconsin is scaling back its home schedule for the second consecutive season. In the past you could consider it a lock the Badgers would have 20 home dates for budgetary reasons. That no longer seems to be the case.

This upcoming season UW will only have 18 games at the Kohl Center. Next season Wisconsin has non-conference scheduling agreements to travel to Ferris State for two games, North Dakota for two games, and Boston College and Boston University for one game each. When you factor in the 20 games on the Big Ten schedule and the NCAA mandated 34 game cap, the Badgers will once again only have 18 home games.

Why the change? From an outsiders perspective, it appears Wisconsin values making the NCAA tournament over making money. And for fans, that should come as music to your ears.

Unlike football and basketball, NCAA hockey tournament teams are selected based on a formula called the PairWise Rankings. Last season the NCAA adjusted that formula to give bonus points for non-conference road wins.

In a story earlier this summer in the Wisconsin State Journal about Wisconsin trying to fill out the remaining two games on its schedule for the upcoming season, head coach Mike Eaves told the paper he was looking to schedule a non-conference series, despite only having 18 home games, to take advantage of the PairWise bonus.

So there you have it, it appears the Badgers will focus more on improving their PairWise standing in an effort to earn an NCAA tournament berth over increasing its revenue by hosting an extra non-conference series at the Kohl Center.

Maybe Barry Alvarez doesn't hate the hockey program after all.

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