Wisconsin Basketball: Biggest games of 2014-15

It might just be that time to talk Wisconsin basketball again. Yeah; the shot to gut Aaron Harrison delivered two months ago still hurts. It’s time however, to shake it off and look forward to what’s to come for the 2014-15 season. Wisconsin will be a favorite to win the Big Ten with sights on surpassing last year’s Final Four loss.

There have been some big games scheduled so far. After looking over the schedule I had to my finger on three of the game of which I believe serve the most importance.

vs. Duke

It’s been a nearly a half a decade since Wisconsin’s thrilling upset over Duke. Now, once again, Mike Krzyzewski and his Dukies venture off to Madison as a part of the Big Ten/ ACC Challenge.

The December 3rd matchup will serve as Wisconsin’s first test of the 2014-15 season. Both teams will certainly be ranked within the top 5. An argument can be made that either team is worthy of the top rank in the entire nation.

I want to give Wisconsin an edge here. Other than the departure of Ben Brust, the 2014-15 Badgers will look nearly identical to last year. Duke on the other hand, will have to construct a new formula from last year. Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood will be drafted in a few days leaving  a major void to fill. Coach K doesn’t mind. What better way to fill that void than by reeling in the nation’s best recruiting class?

Amongst the handful of five-star talent, Krzyzewski’s crown jewel will be center Jahlil Okafor . If it weren’t for the NBA’s age limit, we would be seeing Okafor alongside Parker at the draft. It will be interesting to see how Okafor and his fellow freshman handle the tactical Badgers.

at Maryland

The Big Ten conference has expanded to the East coast. The days of the conference primarily being Midwestern are over. 2014 will introduce Rudgers along with the Maryland Terrapins.

Wisconsin will have to travel to both schools this upcoming season. Of the two, Maryland will present the toughest challenge. Last season, the Terrapins boasted a 12-4 record at home. Maryland’s Comcast Center will get rowdy. Allowing Maryland to hang around will only fuel the hostility.

This game is all about sending a message. On the Wisconsin side, it’s giving Maryland a painful welcome to its new conference. For Maryland, it’s letting the entire Big Ten conference know where they stand. Arguments surge annually to which regions have the best teams. Maryland has the opportunity to show the Big Ten what East coast hoops is all about.

vs. Michigan St.

The War between Bo Ryan and Tom Izzo enters its 15th year. Remarkably, in all those years neither have missed the NCAA tournament. Both coaches have built their winning programs that most schools can only dream of.

Izzo had the last laugh in 2014 as his Spartans breezed by Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament, but 2015 may not be as comical. Keith Appling, Gary Harris, and Adriean Payne are all out. Luckily for Izzo, Branden Dawson decided to stick around for another year. Previous role players now have to step up into starting roles.

Tom Izzo has turned Michigan State into the powerhouse of the Big Ten. Izzo has reigned supreme against UW as of late. Bo Ryan and his Badgers know if they want to be recognized as the best, they’ll have to knock off the Spartans.