INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 06: Nigel Hayes #10 of the Wisconsin Badgers goes up for a dunk in the second half against Tyus Jones #5 of the Duke Blue Devils during the NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 6, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Chris Steppig - Pool/Getty Images)

Big Ten releases men’s basketball schedule, Badgers go on opening night

The Big Ten conference finally got around to announcing the 2015-16 men’s basketball slate, and the defending champion Wisconsin Badgers are going to tip-off Big Ten play live on BTN. UW will take on perhaps one of the most fiesty and nasty rivals, Purdue, at home to open the slate.

Following that contest is Wisconsin’s change to avenge one of two conference losses last season, as the Badgers host Rutgers in the second of a two-game home stand to start Big Ten play.

However, things will get even more difficult after that stretch, with Wisconsin traveling to Indiana and then hosting the only other team to beat it in conference play last season — Maryland.

Although the month of January spreads out the tough games rather nicely, thanks to Northwestern and Penn State stop gaps, February is absolutely brutal on paper. Technically it all starts at the end of January, where Wisconsin gets its return game against the Hoosiers followed by the always tricky appearance at the State Farm Center to take on Illinois.

In total, Wisconsin will finish out its season playing nine of its final 11 games in conference against teams with legitimate chances to make the NCAA tournament. No stretch will mean more than the final eight games, with six of those contests coming on the road.

Wisconsin will have to go to Maryland and Michigan State in back-to-back contests, then see a nasty mid-week contest at Carver-Hawkeye Arena against Iowa bookended by home games against Illinois and Michigan.

That Michigan game will be senior day for Jordan Smith, but Wisconsin will have to refocus quickly with trips to rivals Minnesota and Purdue to end the season.

While things could’ve been more insane, its hard to picture a February slate more difficult in the Big Ten.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site