In what his expected to be a challenging non-conference schedule for UW's veteran backcourt and youthful frontcourt with road games at Marquette and competition in the Old Spice Classic near Orlando, Fla., Wisconsin will play its second straight Big Ten-ACC Challenge game when it host N.C. State at the Kohl Center.
The game will be played on Wednesday, December 1. Game times and ESPN platform designations will be determined and announced at a later date.
N.C. State finished 20-16 last season and in a tie for ninth (5-11) in the ACC. Much like the Badgers, the Wolfpack's biggest win was a home victory over the eventual national champions, ousting Duke by 14 in late January.
N.C. State returns three of its top four scorers from last season, including team-leader Tracy Smith.
An All-ACC second-team performer last season, Smith looked into testing the NBA Draft waters before returning for his senior season, much to the delight of fans in Raleigh. Smith led the team in scoring (16.5 points per game) and rebounds (7.7 per game) and has been working during the offseason on his ball handling, as Smith ranked second on the team with 65 turnovers.
Adding to the depth is one of the more surprising recruiting classes in the country put together by Head Coach Sidney Lowe, who is on the hot seat and probably needs this class to pan out to save his job.
The three-member class – SG Lorenzo Brown, PG Ryan Harrow and PF C.J. Leslie – are all five-star recruits and ranked by Scout.com in the top 10 at their position. Leslie's signing was the most surprising, seeing as he committed to NC State very early in the process, de-committed and consider other programs, and eventually once again pick the Wolfpack over Kentucky and UCONN among others.
"This is the benchmark effort that Sidney Lowe has been looking to deliver," said Scout.com National Basketball Director Dave Telep of N.C. State's class. "Three players, each amongst the best at their respective positions in the country. Now it's up to them to forge together and deliver the wins a class of this magnitude is expected to bring."
That task is easier said than done for N.C. State when it travels to Madison for the first time. Under UW Coach Bo Ryan, the Badgers are 136-11 (.925 winning percentage) at the Kohl Center, including 3-1 in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Wisconsin is 5-6 overall in the Challenge, the second best mark among conference teams, and the conference is 1-10 overall, having won its first challenge last year.
The Wolfpack boast a 5-5 record all-time in the Challenge, but are just 1-4 away from their home floor. N.C. State has lost two straight Challenge games, including a 65-53 home loss to Northwestern in 2009.
This will be the first time in the 12-year history of the event that the Badgers have played consecutive games at the Kohl Center. UW defeated eventual national champion Duke 73-69 in Madison on Dec. 2, marking its fourth straight win against ACC opponents.
The Badgers and Wolfpack have only met once, in the Sweet 16 round of the 2005 NCAA tournament. UW defeated N.C. State 65-56 in Syracuse, N.Y., to advance to the Elite Eight.
Wisconsin loses its second-leading scorer Trevon Hughes (15.3 ppg) and third-leading scorer Jason Bohannon (11.6 ppg), but return six players that averaged over 10 minutes a game from a team that made the second round of the NCAA Tournament. One of those players is senior Jon Leuer, who led UW with 15.4 ppg and averaged over 21.0 ppg in the NCAA tournament despite missing nine games with a broken bone in his left wrist.
2010 ACC/Big Ten Challenge schedule
Monday, November 29
Virginia at Minnesota
Tuesday, November 30
North Carolina at Illinois
Ohio State at Florida State
Michigan at Clemson
Georgia Tech at Northwestern
Iowa at Wake Forest
Wednesday, December 1
Michigan State at Duke
Purdue at Virginia Tech
North Carolina State at Wisconsin
Indiana at Boston College
Maryland at Penn State