Badgers picked to win B1G West Division

The Big Ten Network twitter account tweeted out the USA Today 2017 Big Ten West division predictions. The Wisconsin Badgers were the clear-cut favorite to win the West Division.

The Badgers were predicted to go 11-1 overall and 8-1 in the conference. The predictions didn’t specify what team they thought the Badgers would lose to.

Nebraska was projected to finish second, while Northwestern came in at third, and Iowa fourth. Those were the only four teams that USA Today predicted would have winning records overall and in conference play in the West Division.

Minnesota was picked to finish fifth in P.J. Fleck’s first year as head coach. Purdue and Illinois were picked to finish in a tie for last to round out the West standings.

The Badgers will open their season September 1st at home against Utah State. The game kicks-off at 8 p.m. EST and can be seen on ESPN.

Report: Knicks sign former Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes

There is another former Wisconsin player with an NBA contract.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted Thursday night that forward Nigel Hayes had agreed to a partially guaranteed deal with the New York Knicks.

Hayes went undrafted in June, but played with the Knicks during their summer league games in Orlando. He told a Toledo, Ohio, TV station in July that he would be going to training camp with the team.

The deal doesn’t guarantee him a roster spot, but as of now he is the sixth former Wisconsin player currently under contract in the NBA, joining Sam Dekker (LA Clippers), Frank Kaminsky (Charlotte), Bronson Koenig (Milwaukee), Jon Leuer (Detroit) and Devin Harris (Dallas).

A three-year starter for the Badgers, Hayes averaged 14 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists during his senior year, earning All-Big Ten third-team honors.

Wisconsin moves to 2-0 on foreign trip

The Wisconsin basketball team improved to 2-0 on its foreign trip early Thursday morning with an 87-53 whipping of the Sky City Breakers.

For a second straight game, the revamped Badgers were hot from the outside, hitting 15 of 27 from beyond the arc. They were led by junior Andy Van Vliet, who finished with a team-high 14 points, while sophomore D’Mitrik Trice added 12 and freshmen Kobe King and Nathan Reuvers each put in nine.

Coach Greg Gard overhauled nearly his entire starting lineup for the second game of the five-game tour, going with freshman Brad Davison and sophomore Brevin Pritzl at guard, while redshirt freshman Aleem Ford joined Van Vliet and Charlie Thomas in the front court.

Wisconsin will now head to Australia for the final three games of the trip.

Big Ten releases 2017-’18 basketball schedule

We knew the teams that Wisconsin would face this winter on the court. Now we know the order and the day. That’s after the Big Ten released the full conference schedule Wednesday afternoon.

Thanks to the conference tournament moving up a week to accommodate its move to New York and Madison Square Garden, the Badgers will open up the Big Ten season on Dec. 2 at home against Ohio State. Two nights later they’ll be at Penn State. Then it’ll be back to the non-conference portion of their schedule with a trip to Temple on Dec. 6.

Wisconsin will pick Big Ten play back up on Jan. 2 against Indiana at home. That will be followed by five road games over the next six contests, with trips to Purdue, Iowa and Michigan State all on the docket.

Following that stretch, the Badgers will close by playing six of their final nine games at the Kohl Center, highlighted by games against Michigan (Feb. 11), Purdue (Feb. 15), Minnesota (Feb. 19) and Michigan State (Feb. 25).

The full schedule is below:

Brevin Pritzl scores 27 in win over New Zealand Breakers

AUCKLAND — The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team started the five-game international series with an 85-75 exhibition win over the New Zealand Breakers.

Sophomore guard Brevin Pritzl led the Badgers with 27 points on the way to victory, supported by 17 points from junior center Ethan Happ. Freshman guard Brad Davison added 13. Wisconsin and New Zealand were tied 57-57 heading into the final quarter, where UW pulled away, outscoring the Breakers 28-18.

Wisconsin will have a day off before facing Tauranga City Basketball Thursday at 1:30 a.m. CT. The Badgers will play their final three games in Australia against Hawthorn Magic, Melbourne United, and Sydney Kings.

https://twitter.com/BadgerMBB/status/896387353392156672

LISTEN: Wisconsin football will play Notre Dame at Lambeau Field and Soldier Field

CHICAGO — It’s official. The Wisconsin and Notre Dame football teams are set to meet for the first time since 1964. The universities have agreed to a two-year, neutral-site football series beginning in 2020.

The Irish and Badgers will play Oct. 3, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Sept. 25, 2021, at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez was one of four to make the announcement at a news conference in Chicago Monday morning.

Green Bay Packers President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Murphy was also present at the news conference.

University of Notre Dame Vice President & James E. Rohr Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick also said it will be a great event.

 

The Irish and Badgers have played on 16 previous occasions, with Notre Dame leading the series 8-6-2. Notre Dame earned a 31-7 victory in the most recent meeting between the schools on Sept. 26, 1964, in Madison, Wisconsin, in Ara Parseghian’s debut as head coach for the Irish. The Irish and Badgers met for the first time on the gridiron on Nov. 10, 1900, when Wisconsin shut out Notre Dame, 54-0. The Badgers captured the first three all-time meetings (1900, 1904, 1905) with the Irish.

Neutral site matchups are nothing new to the Notre Dame-Wisconsin series. The 1904 and 1905 games were played in Milwaukee, while legendary Irish head coach Knute Rockne led Notre Dame to a 19-0 victory over the Badgers on Oct. 19, 1929, at Soldier Field.

Notre Dame has played 12 games at Soldier Field, most recently in 2012 when the Irish routed Miami, (Fla.), 41-3, in a Shamrock Series matchup. The Irish own an all-time record of 10-0-2 in the current home of the Chicago Bears.

Wisconsin has played three games at Soldier Field. In addition to the ’29 meeting with the Irish, the Badgers defeated Great Lakes in 1942 and Northern Illinois in 2011.

Interestingly enough, 2020 will mark Notre Dame’s first-ever appearance at legendary Lambeau Field, which is named after Curly Lambeau – former Irish player and eventual founder of the Green Bay Packers. Wisconsin has played just once in the stadium, last year’s 16-14 victory over No. 5 LSU.

The Wisconsin-Notre Dame meeting in 2020 will mark just the second major college football game in the history of Lambeau Field, and the second college game of any kind since NCAA Division III St. Norbert faced Fordham in 1983.

The 2020 and 2021 games against Notre Dame are the only future regular season games for the Badgers currently slated to be played in NFL stadiums.

 

Assessing the inside linebackers in the wake of Jack Cichy’s season-ending injury

MADISON — Jack Cichy is done for the year after tearing the ACL in his right knee Tuesday night at practice. And for the second time in 10 months, Wisconsin players and coaches are having to field questions about where they go from here now that they don’t have their fiery and talented inside linebacker. The choices, like they were last October when Cichy tore his left pectoral muscle and missed the second half of the season, are far better than most teams in the country could hope for in a similar situation.

Here’s our look at who has a chance to roll with the first-team defense next to to three-year starter T.J. Edwards and attempt to fill the massive void left by Cichy

Junior Ryan Connelly (2016: 59 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, 1 interception)

Connelly started the final seven games of last season after Cichy went down and filled in admirably. A former walk-on just like Cichy, Connelly, according to PFF College Football, had the No. 1 run stop percentage among all returning inside linebackers in the country. He would likely be a heavy favorite to be Cichy’s replacement once again, but he’s currently dealing with a leg injury of his own that has kept him out of practice for the last week. Coach Paul Chryst said the injury isn’t season-ending, but he also gave no indication when the Minnesota native would be able to return.

Sophomore Chris Orr (2016: Torn ACL on first snap. 2015: 46 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, .5 sack)

Orr started five games as a true freshman in 2015 before tearing his left ACL on the first snap of 2016. He’s now fully recovered and was running with the first-team defense on Thursday morning. Orr is not the biggest guy, but being relentless and instinctive are two of his better traits. Depending on how long Connelly remains out, Orr very well could grab ahold of the job and not let go.

Sophomore Griffin Grady (2016: 12 games, 4 tackles)

One of just six true freshmen to see the field for Wisconsin in 2016, Grady was a fixture on special teams and looked solid in mop-up time at inside linebacker. Unfortunately for him and the Badgers, the Dublin, Ohio., product has missed most of fall camp with an illness, preventing him from getting vital reps.

Junior Arrington Farrar (2016: 7 tackles, 1 forced fumble)

A safety his first two years on campus, Farrar moved to inside linebacker during spring practice for Wisconsin. The change allowed him to bulk up as opposed to constantly worrying about keeping his weight down to play in the secondary. One of Wisconsin’s key guys on special teams, Farrar admitted in the spring that redshirting in 2017 was a possibility with all the talent in front of him. That might not be the case now that Cichy’s season is over.

Redshirt freshman Mike Maskalunas (2016: redshirt)

From Long Grove, Ill., Maskalunas has the chance to be the next walk-on to hit it big at linebacker, joining the likes of Joe Schobert, Marcus Trotter, Ethan Armstrong, Cichy and Connelly. Asked what young guy stood out to him during the summer, tight end Troy Fumagalli singled out Maskalunas.

“He’s a hard worker, puts his head down, does the right things,” Fumagalli said on ‘The Camp.’ “He’s got a bunch of talent in front of him. You might not see him right away. People might speculate [about his future]. But if he keeps on the same path of working hard and follows those guys in front of him, I think he’s going to be a really good player one day.”

LB Jack Cichy to miss 2017 season

MADISON — Wisconsin has lost senior linebacker Jack Cichy for the 2017 season.

The school announced Wednesday morning that the former walk-on had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during practice on Tuesday. Cichy will undergo surgery in Chicago on Friday.

“You hate it for Jack,” coach Paul Chryst said in a statement released by the school . “You only get so many chances to play this game and you never want to see a guy miss any of those opportunities. He’s one of the leaders of our team and I know he’ll be a big part of what we do moving forward this season.”

The Somerset, Wis., native went down clutching his right knee without being touched during a drill Tuesday night. He walked off under his own power and later returned to practice but was clearly still bothered by it.

Inside linebacker is among the deepest positions on Wisconsin’s roster. Junior T.J. Edwards is entering his third year as a starter, junior Ryan Connelly started the final seven games of last season and sophomore Chris Orr started six games a true freshman in 2015.

Cichy, named a captain by his teammates, missed the final seven games of last year after tearing his left pectoral. Despite that, he still earned All-Big Ten honorable mention by racking up 60 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

Wisconsin cancels practice in Milwaukee due to threat of severe weather

MADISONWisconsin won’t be holding a scrimmage in Milwaukee after all.

The school announced Wednesday afternoon that with the potential for severe weather in the area on Thursday, it had decided to cancel the open practice that was going to held at Custer Stadium in the afternoon.

“It’s disappointing that we’re unable to go to Milwaukee,” coach Paul Chryst said in a release from the school. “I know there was a lot of planning that took place and I’d like to thank Bill Molbeck of Milwaukee Public Schools for all his help. Our hope is to be able to visit at some point in the future.”

Officials said a decision needed to be made by Wednesday because of the logistics involved with moving an entire team and all of its equipment to another location.

What we’ve seen from Wisconsin through one week of fall camp

MADISON — Wisconsin is a week into fall camp, and though the Badgers have yet to don full pads, we’ve seen and learned plenty during the six practices.

Here is some of what we’ve seen:

Looking good

After a bit of slow start, quarterback Alex Hornibrook has turned in several very good practices in recent days. The sophomore has added a bit of zip to some of his shorter passes, allowing him to fit the ball in tight areas, while also continuing to show a penchant for throwing with anticipation. He hasn’t completed every deep pass, but a number of Wisconsin’s most impressive plays of camp have been him hitting shots down the field. If Wisconsin gets the type of play we’ve seen from Hornibrook this week, the offense has a chance to significantly increase its production from the last two years.

Backup plan

There is very little separating the two players battling to be Hornibrook’s backup. Redshirt freshman Kare Lyles and true freshman Jack Coan have shared second-team reps, though the former seemed to take more of them on Thursday. Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said the first week was largely about installing the offense, which he made sure was the focus for both guys. Now, over the next few weeks, it’ll be just about playing and seeing which one earns the job.

More explosive

Wisconsin has lacked explosive plays out of its offense the last two years, but the Badgers have a good chance to change that in 2017. In wide receivers Jazz Peavy, Quintez Cephus, A.J. Taylor, George Rushing and Kendric Pryor, along with running backs Chris James and Bradrick Shaw, Chryst has the most talented group of skill players he’s had since returning to Madison two years ago. Several defenders have noticed a change from last season, with one saying it’s clear the coaches have loosened the reins and are giving them more freedom to make plays.

What competition?

Any thought that there would be a competition for starting jobs along the offensive line have been put to rest in the first week of camp. The team has yet to have a padded practice and injuries are certainly going to crop up, but it’s looking as if offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph has his best five guys in a group consisting of Michael Deiter at left tackle, Jon Dietzen at left guard, Tyler Biadasz at center, Beau Benzschawel at right guard and David Edwards at right tackle.

LISTEN: Michael Deiter on the challenge of moving to left tackle.

A problem off the edge

Senior Leon Jacobs is finally back at the position he was made to play — outside linebacker — and he’s been downright scary at times. He’s bullied linemen with his strength and made others look bad with a slick spin move. The California native could end up being an absolute nightmare for opposing tackles.

A job opening in the secondary

The starting secondary for Wisconsin is set and looking mighty good with Derrick Tindal and Nick Nelson at cornerback, and D’Cota Dixon and Natrell Jamerson at safety. But it doesn’t seem as though defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard has made up his mind as to who the third cornerback will be when they go to their nickel defense. Redshirt freshman Dontye Carriere-Williams has taken a lot of first-team reps, but senior Lubern Figaro continues to see time as well. It still feels like Carriere-Williams will end up there, but he hasn’t won the job yet.

LISTEN: Paul Chryst on what he’s seen from safety Natrell Jamerson

Finding the ball

Linebacker T.J. Edwards continues to be a menace for quarterbacks in the passing game. Fresh off a two interception performance in the Cotton Bowl, the junior had three interceptions in a four practice stretch this week. Fellow linebacker Chris Orr joked the quarterbacks just like throwing Edwards the ball, but went on to admit that the anticipation and instincts he shows are off the charts. Edwards has led the Badgers in tackles the last two seasons, but he could be in for an even better year in 2017.

Getting better

Kicker Rafael Gaglianone isn’t back to where he was last fall before suffering a season-ending back injury in Week 3, but he’s been solid. Of the more than 20 kicks he’s had in team situations, only one sticks out as a really bad miss. He’s got his leg strength up from where it was in the spring, and Wisconsin should feel comfortable sending him out for long kicks by the time the season rolls around.

Young guys on the field

With a such a veteran team, it won’t be easy for any of the true freshmen to see the field this fall. Of the guys that have a chance, most of it would be on special teams. That includes long snapper Adam Bay, coverage teams for cornerback Madison Cone and potentially wide receivers Cade Green and Danny Davis as punt returners.

As for redshirt freshmen, several figure to play important roles this year. In addition to Biadasz, Carriere-Williams and Pryor, the Badgers foresee defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk and tackle Patrick Kasl as key backups.

Injured players return

Quite a few key members of the team were limited in the spring, and in some cases, held out entirely. But nearly all of have returned and looked good.

Inside linebacker Jack Cichy (shoulder/pectoral) has taken all the first-team reps, along with Edwards, who missed spring with a foot injury. Behind them, Ryan Connelly and Orr have been fixtures of the second-team and played well after not seeing time in the spring.

The same goes for Dietzen at left guard and running back Taiwan Deal. The latter has drawn plenty of praise from Chryst, and has clearly gained some speed and quickness from earlier in his career.