MADISON - Expected to be the preseason favorites to win the Big Ten next season and one of the top teams in the country, Wisconsin basketball will add another high-caliber test to its already challenging nonconference schedule.
Announced by the Big Ten Conference Thursday, the Badgers will host the Duke Blue Devils on Wednesday, December 3 in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Times and television will be announced in August.
"We're excited to welcome Duke back to the Kohl Center," head coach Bo Ryan said in a statement. "I've known Mike Krzyzewski for a long time and have a lot of respect for him and his program. Excuse the play on words, but this will be a challenging match-up for us. We always try to put together a tough non-conference schedule that will get us ready for Big Ten play, and this certainly fits that category. We have tremendous fans that fill the Kohl Center every game and it's exciting to be able to reward them with a another big-time match-up like this."
The Badgers are 7-8 all-time in the Challenge and are tied for the most wins of any Big Ten team in the event. Wisconsin won 48-38 last season against a Virginia team that won the ACC regular season and tournament championship, as well as earning a No.1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Duke (26-9, 13-5 ACC) finished in third place in the ACC last season and lost to the Cavaliers in the ACC championship game. Earning a number three seed in the NCAA tournament, the Blue Devils were upset by No.14 seed Mercer in the second round.
The matchup makes sense considering how talented both teams are projected to be. Wisconsin only graduates Ben Brust from a rotation that led the Badgers to a 30-8 record and the school's first Final Four appearance since 2000. The Badgers return junior Sam Dekker and senior Frank Kaminsky, two players who chose another year of school instead of turning pro, along with seniors Josh Gasser, Traevon Jackson and sophomore Nigel Hayes.
Duke lost integral players like Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood, Tyler Thornton, Andre Dawkins and Josh Hairston, but the Blue Devils have a loaded recruiting class led by No. 1 prospect Jahlil Okafor and top-10 guard Tyus Jones, both expected starters for long-time coach Mike Krzyzewski. In addition to Okafor, Duke also has center Mason Plumlee and forward Semi Ojeleye, three players Wisconsin offered at one point during the recruiting process.
The Blue Devils are 13-2 in the challenge, including an 82-58 win over Wisconsin in Durham, N.C. in 2007 and a 73-69 loss in Madison in 2009. Those represent the only times the programs have played one another.
The Badgers are 21-12 all-time vs. members of the ACC. Under Bo Ryan, Wisconsin is 10-8 vs. ACC foes, including wins in seven of its last nine meetings. The ACC won the first 10 Challenges, but the Big Ten is unbeaten in the last five.
In addition to playing Duke, Wisconsin has road games scheduled at California and Marquette, and will play in a loaded Battle for Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas against a field that includes Florida, UCLA, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgetown, Butler and UAB. The rest of UW's nonconference schedule will be released in the summer.
Monday, December 1
Nebraska at Florida State
Rutgers at Clemson
Tuesday, December 2
No. 21 Syracuse at No. 24 Michigan
Ohio State at No. 8 Louisville
Pittsburgh at Indiana
NC State at Purdue
Illinois at Miami (Fla.)
Minnesota at Wake Forest
Wednesday, December 3
No. 2 Duke at No. 4 Wisconsin
No. 18 Michigan State at Notre Dame
No. 25 Iowa at No. 6 North Carolina
No. 7 Virginia at Maryland
Georgia Tech at Northwestern
Virginia Tech at Penn State