MADISON – Opening Big Ten play away from the Kohl Center isn’t easy.
Opening Big Ten play against Tom Izzo and Michigan State, in the Breslin Center, isn’t easy.
Opening Big Ten play against the Spartans – three days after hosting rival Marquette and four days before facing powerful Arizona in Tucson – is a gauntlet.
Welcome to one of the more telling weeks on Wisconsin’s 2023-24 men’s basketball schedule.
The release Tuesday of the Big Ten schedule revealed Greg Gard’s team opens league play Dec. 5 against the Spartans, who are expected to challenge for the title.
Marquette and Arizona are expected to challenge for their respective league titles as well.
That means in a span of eight days UW will play three games against teams expected to challenge for their respective league titles.
Unlike the previous six seasons, UW will play just one league game in December.
After facing Arizona in Tucson, UW has home games Dec. 14 against Jacksonville State and Dec. 22 against Chicago State.
UW’s final 19 Big Ten games include just one pair of consecutive road games – Feb. 7 at Michigan and Feb. 10 at Rutgers.
The end of January appears daunting for a team looking to bounce back from a 9-11 mark in league play last season.
UW hosts Indiana on the 19th, travels to face rival Minnesota on the 23rd and then returns home for the rematch with Michigan State on the 26th.
February and the stretch run will be challenging
February features five road games, including the two-game swing to Michigan and Rutgers, and only three home games.
The home games won’t be gimmies.
Defending champion Purdue visits the Kohl Center on Feb. 4. Ohio State, which bounced UW from the Big Ten tournament last season, visits on the 13th. Maryland, which split two regular-season games with UW last season, visits on the 20th.
If the Badgers are in contention for the regular-season title down the stretch, their final four games will be critical.
UW plays Feb. 27 at Indiana. The Badgers suffered an 18-point loss last season in Bloomington.
They host Illinois on March 2 and Rutgers on March 7. The Illini have a six-game winning streak against UW and Rutgers has won its last two games at the Kohl Center.
And how does UW close the regular season? With a trip to Purdue, which went 14-2 at home last season.
2023-24 Wisconsin men's basketball schedule
Nov. 1 – UW-STEVENS POINT (exhibition)
Nov. 6 – ARKANSAS STATE
Nov. 10 – TENNESSEE
Nov. 14 – at Providence
Nov. 17 – ROBERT MORRIS
Nov. 20 – vs. Virginia (Fort Meyers Tip-Off)
Nov. 22 – vs. SMU/West Virginia (Fort Meyers Tip-Off)
Nov. 27 – WESTERN ILLINOIS
Dec. 2 – MARQUETTE
Dec. 5 – at Michigan State
Dec. 9 – at Arizona
Dec. 14 – JACKSONVILLE STATE
Dec. 22 – CHICAGO STATE
Jan. 2 – IOWA
Jan. 6 – NEBRASKA
Jan. 10 – at Ohio State
Jan. 13 – NORTHWESTERN
Jan. 16 – at Penn State
Jan. 19 – INDIANA
Jan. 23 – at Minnesota
Jan. 26 – MICHIGAN STATE
Feb. 1 – at Nebraska
Feb. 4 – PURDUE
Feb. 7 – at Michigan
Feb. 10 – at Rutgers
Feb. 13 – OHIO STATE
Feb. 17 – at Iowa
Feb. 20 – MARYLAND
Feb. 27 – at Indiana
March 2 – ILLINOIS
March 7 – RUTGERS
March 10 – at Purdue
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin begins Big Ten basketball schedule at Michigan State Dec. 5