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Takeaways From Wisconsin Basketball Nonconference Schedule Release



Wisconsin Badgers Basketball; Connor Essegian and Tyler Wahl
Nov 15, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers guard Connor Essegian (3) congratulates Wisconsin Badgers forward Tyler Wahl (5) on scoring against the Green Bay Phoenix during the first half at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Kayla Wolf-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin basketball program released its official non-conference schedule on Wednesday afternoon. With an array of formidable opponents, their schedule undoubtedly presents the Badgers with their fair share of tests before Big Ten play. 

If UW is going to get back on track and prove that last season was an outlier, it is evident that the Badgers will need to establish a rotation quickly to successfully navigate this demanding slate of games.

Per usual, Wisconsin will take on a division three WIAC opponent to kick things off, and this season they’ll take on UW-Stevens Point in an exhibition on November 1 at The Kohl Center before hitting the ground running the following week. 

Here are my takeaways from the non-conference schedule release. 

Wisconsin Basketball Has a Formidable Lineup of Opponents

Upon reviewing the non-conference schedule, it became apparent that the Wisconsin Badgers are not shying away from tough competition. Greg Gard has lined up a series of challenging games against some of the nation’s top basketball programs. 

The Badgers have six opponents: Tennessee (6), Marquette (17), Arizona (22), Providence (43), possibly West Virginia (59), and Virginia (62), all on the docket who Bartorvik has ranked inside the top 62 teams. Additionally, Tennessee and Marquette are the only home games among that group. 

Wisconsin basketball returns 92% of its scoring from last season. However, Wisconsin failed to establish an identity. They’ll need to grow up quickly to pad their resume heading into the always tricky Big Ten slate. 

The Benefits of Wisconsin Basketball Having a Difficult Non-Conference Schedule

While an arduous non-conference schedule can be daunting, it also presents several benefits for the Wisconsin basketball team. First and foremost, it allows them to find out how they stack up against some of the nation’s best right out of the gate. 

Facing tough opponents early in the season can also help the Badgers identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to the rotation before conference play begins. 

This reality means the incoming freshmen like Gus Yalden, Nolan Winter, and possibly even John Blackwell will get to see if they can push for a meaningful role or if Greg Gard will fall back on players like Carter Gilmore and Kamari McGee, who he trusts more. 

One thing is certain: depth was a real issue and contributed to Wisconsin basketball fizzling out last season. The Badgers starters played heavy minutes, and there weren’t many proven options behind them, leaving a razor-thin margin for error. Adding AJ Storr through the transfer portal and the incoming freshman should help create more internal competition. 

It’ll be interesting to see if Coach Gard runs a tight rotation in those games or if he shows a little extra leash to learn more about his team and how they respond to adversity. 

Final Thoughts

In general, I enjoy watching Wisconsin basketball take on the best opponent possible. However, the NCAA Tournament committee didn’t exactly reward strength of the schedule that much last season — so I also question whether or not this is in the best interest of the Badgers. 

Yes, it provides invaluable learning experiences, exposes weaknesses, and fosters a resilient mindset necessary for conference play, but what’s it all worth if it costs them seeding later on? 

I want to see Greg Gard and this group establish confidence and cohesion that gets the Badgers back on track. Maybe I’m dead wrong, and this is what the doctor ordered. 

Only time will tell.

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Dillon Graff is a Substack newsletter best-selling author, publisher of AllBadgers, and the owner of, your go-to source for in-depth coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers. His work has been featured in top media publications like USA Today's BadgersWire, Athlon Sports, Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, Bucky's 5th Quarter, and FanSided.