Wisconsin Badgers to host NC State in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

The schedule for the 2018-19 Wisconsin basketball season became a little more clear, according to a report on Thursday afternoon.

Jon Rothstein of FanRagSports.com reported the matchup between Wisconsin and NC State which will take place at the Kohl Center at a date yet to be determined.

Rothstein also had the complete schedule for ACC/Big Ten Challenge which can be found here.

The ACC/Big Ten Challenge has been in existence since 1999 and the Badgers have a 9-10 record, including 49-37 loss to the University of Virginia last season.

Wisconsin to open the season at night, three more game times announced

For a second straight year, Wisconsin will open the season under the lights at Camp Randall Stadium.

The school announced four game times on Thursday, including the Aug. 31 season opener against Western Kentucky, which will get underway at 8 p.m. and be broadcast on ESPN.

The Badgers opened last season at night against Utah State, falling behind 10-0 before rolling to a 59-10 victory. Like that game, this one will also be played on a Friday night.

As for the rest of the announced times:

Sept. 8 vs New Mexico — 11 a.m.
Sept. 15 vs BYU — 2:30 p.m.
Oct. 20 vs Illinois — 11 a.m. (Homecoming)

The times for the other eight games will be released at a later date.

Wisconsin to play at Wrigley Field in 2020

When the University of Wisconsin Badgers take on Northwestern in the 2020 football season it won’t be in Evanston, Ill. at Ryan Field. According to the Chicago Tribune, the game will be played at Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs.

The game is set for November 7, 2020, and will be the first football game at Wrigley Field since Northwestern lost to the University of Illinois 48-27 back in 2010.

While the game is a Northwestern home game, this marks the second game on the schedule for the Badgers in the 2020 season that will take place at a non-traditional college stadium. The Badgers will also be taking on the University of Notre Dame at Lambeau Field in Green Bay on October 3, 2020.

Ethan Happ returning to Wisconsin for his senior year

Wisconsin center Ethan Happ is coming back for his senior year.

The three-time All-Big Ten performer announced the decision via Twitter just hours before the 11:59 p.m. deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft.

Though not invited to the scouting combine earlier in May, Happ did have multiple workouts with teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors. But he didn’t hire an agent, which allowed him to retain his eligibility.

Happ returns to a program that missed the NCAA tournament last season for the first time since 1998, but that has a chance to bounce back this fall. Wisconsin should have a healthy Brad Davison, Kobe King and D’Mitrik Trice, while also seeing another year of development from promising front court players in Nate Reuvers and Aleem Ford.

The Illinois product will also have a chance to leave his name all over the Wisconsin record books. If he puts together a similar season to last year, Happ will own the school record for rebounding, and finish in the top-3 in scoring, assists, blocks and steals.

Wednesday is decision day for Ethan Happ

Wisconsin forward Ethan Happ must have his formal decision on whether or not he will remain in the 2018 NBA Draft or return to school for his final year of eligibility.

Happ declared for the draft earlier this offseason however he did not hire an agent, making him eligible to return to school for his final year of eligibility. He was not invited to the 2018 NBA Combine, however he has had workouts with the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Los Angeles Lakers.

Happ has gone on record as saying that if he was not projected in the first round or early in the second round then he would return to school. He told the Detroit Free Press earlier this week that right now he is projected as a late-second round pick.

In the 2017-18 season Happ averaged 17.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game while being named second-team All-Big Ten.

No decision yet for Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ

Ethan Happ still hasn’t made a decision on whether to keep his name in for the 2018 NBA Draft or to return to Wisconsin for his senior year.

Speaking following a workout with the Detroit Pistons on Thursday, Happ told reporters he’s still got at least one more workout before next week’s deadline.

“I have Golden State coming up,” said Happ, according to the Detroit News. “Then I might fit a team in on the 29th or might just call it and start making a decision whether to [withdraw] or keep my name in the draft.”

Happ has until May 30 to make that decision. Because he hasn’t hired an agent, he’s eligible to come back to Madison for his final year.

Right after the season, Happ said he’d have to be a first-round pick to keep his name in, though he’s wavered a bit on that, telling the Wisconsin State Journal’s Jim Polzin that he’d have a tough decision to make if he was told he’d be an early second-round pick. Based on most mock drafts, that doesn’t appear likely.

Still, when asked Thursday about going back to school, Happ maintained that it’s still up in the air considering where some of the team’s he’s worked out with, including the Pistons, sit in the second round.

“Detroit’s got a great pick (No. 42 overall). I thought I had a good workout. There’s obviously a lot of other good candidates,” Happ said. “There are no guarantees, obviously, in this draft business, but I definitely am keeping the option open of going back to school.”

Early college football lines have Wisconsin as an underdog

Wisconsin was a favorite in every regular season game it played last season on the way to a 12-0 record. If the Badgers are going to duplicate that mark, they are likely going to have to pull a few upsets.

The South Point Sportsbook in Las Vegas released point spreads for a number of the biggest games of the year in college football and four of Wisconsin’s contests were listed.

The Badgers have owned the Big Ten West for much of its four-year existence, winning it three times. Most expect them to do it again in 2018, so it should be no surprise they are 5-point favorites at Iowa on Sept. 22 and 17-point favorites over Nebraska on Oct. 6.

The games where they could be an underdog come later, starting with a trip to Michigan on Oct. 13. The Wolverines are listed as 3-point favorites in that matchup. About a month later, Wisconsin travels to Penn State and South Point has the Nittany Lions as 4.5-point favorites.

Wisconsin is 3-4 as an underdog during coach Paul Chryst’s three years.

Wisconsin to play home-and-home series vs Pittsburgh

Wisconsin has added another power conference team to its future schedule.

The school announced Thursday morning it had agreed to a home-and-home series with Pittsburgh. The first game will be played at Camp Randall Stadium in 2026 and the second game will be played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh in 2027.

The Panthers are 3-0 against the Badgers, but the two sides haven’t played since 1967 when Pittsburgh won 13-11 in Madison.

Current Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst started his head coaching career at Pittsburgh in 2012, going 19-19 in three seasons before coming back to the Badgers. Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph, quarterbacks coach Jon Budmayr, tight ends coach Mickey Turner, running backs coach John Settle and defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield were all a part of Chryst’s staff in some capacity in Pittsburgh.

With the addition of the Panthers, here’s a look at Wisconsin’s future matchups with Power 5 schools:

2020: Notre Dame (Green Bay)
2021: Notre Dame (Chicago)
2022: Washington State
2023: @ Washington State
2024: Virginia Tech
2025: @ Virginia Tech
2026: Pittsburgh
2027: @ Pittsburgh
2029: @ UCLA
2030: UCLA

Wisconsin loses another commitment in 2019 class

For the second time in the last two weeks, Wisconsin has lost a commitment in the Class of 2019.

Early Wednesday evening, 3-star wide receiver Nolan Groulx announced on Twitter that he had de-committed from the Badgers.

“I would like to thank Coach (Ted) Gilmore, Coach (Paul) Chryst and Coach Saeed (Khalif) for all they have done for me,” Groulx wrote in the tweet. “I wish all the other commits that I have built a relationship with the best of luck. At this time I am going to de-commit from the University of Wisconsin and open my recruitment back up.”

The Cornelius, N.C., native initially committed to the Badgers last June over offers from Duke, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and others.

Groulx’s decision comes in the wake of safety Bryson Shaw doing the same thing. He announced his decision April 28 and immediately committed to Ohio State. It leaves the Badgers’ class at seven members.

If there is one group that can handle a de-commitment it is wide receiver. The Badgers will have 10 scholarship players at the position this fall and only two are upperclassmen.

Barry Alvarez on national title talk: ‘I think it’s healthy.’

Barry Alvarez rarely talked about national championships when he was the head coach at Wisconsin. On occasion, during his 16 seasons leading the program, he was asked whether winning a national title was a goal, and he largely brushed it aside. His philosophy was if you win the Big Ten, then you’ll be in position to play for more at the end of the year.

The landscape has changed significantly since Alvarez was the full-time coach, with the move to a playoff system in 2014. Still, with a large number of current players stating this spring that their goals included making the college football playoff and winning a national title, it made sense to see how Alvarez, now the athletic director at Wisconsin, views their comments.

“I think it’s healthy,” Alvarez said Monday. “Our guys aren’t backing away from it. They went in last year with high expectations and lived up to them. They were one possession away from playing in the [playoff]. They’ve got a good nucleus coming back — a very good nucleus. [They’ve got] some of the best players in the country at their positions.

“I think they understand how you have to work in the offseason and how you have to come together as a team. All of that comes into play. It’s not just having good guys. There are some other things you have to do to become a good team.”

Wisconsin returns 10 of the 11 players that started on offense in the Orange Bowl and have All-Big Ten players such as linebacker T.J. Edwards and safety D’Cota Dixon returning on defense. It’s led many to put the Badgers very high in their way-too-early Top 25 rankings, including USA Today having them at No. 3.

“The fact they think [they can win a national title], that’s great. I think it’s awesome,” Alvarez said. “I think they have a chance to be a really good team.”

Joe Ferguson tryout with the Packers

Former Badgers safety Joe Ferguson, Alvarez’s grandson, got the opportunity to tryout with the Green Bay Packers during their rookie orientation camp on Friday and Saturday. A backup for much of his career at Wisconsin, Ferguson played well last fall when injuries cropped up in the secondary. He tied for the team lead in interceptions (4) and returned one of them for a touchdown.

It was a year that made the possibility of a professional career something to think about for Ferguson and his family.

“Joe came to me and said he wasn’t finished and that he wanted to continue playing if he could. I gave him my blessing,” Alvarez said. “If he wants to take a look and see how he matches up, [that’s great]. If something works out for him, I’d be thrilled for him.”

Tryout players weren’t made available to the media, but, according to Alvarez, Ferguson felt good about what he was able to accomplish during the two days of practice.

“He thought he did pretty well,” Alvarez said. “He got a lot positive comments during practice. He picked up the defense quickly. He didn’t make any huge plays but was never out of position.”

Alvarez said that Ferguson has another tryout scheduled with the Indianapolis Colts when they hold their rookie camp later this week.

Bucky on Parade

Monday was the start of Bucky on Parade, an art event that will see 85 Bucky Badger statues placed throughout Madison and Dane County over the next four months. All of them will have a different theme. The one at Camp Randall Stadium is called “Bucky Alvarez,” and it’s dressed like Alvarez – headset, sunglasses, sweater vest and khakis.

“Yeah, that’s a game day outfit,” Alvarez said when asked if he liked it. “Absolutely.”

All the proceeds from the event will benefit local charities, including basketball coach Greg Gard’s initiative, “Garding Against Cancer.”

“I think the project is good,” Alvarez said. “It’s for a good cause, and you can have a little fun with it at the same time. It’s very positive.”