The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team just punched their ticket to a tournament for next season in the 2017 Hall of Fame Classic in November.
While most overlook preseason tournaments until they arrive, the Classic in Kansas City, Missouri is especially noteworthy next season due to the insane talent it will feature.
Alongside the Badgers will be the likes of Creighton, Baylor and UCLA. While a potential matchup with Creighton would serve as a rematch for Wisconsin given the two’s hard fought battle at Creighton this season, UCLA and Baylor are two non-conference teams that UW rarely sees and could be major tests into how much of a rebuild this team will need.
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For most fans of the Scarlet and White, looking ahead to next season is the last thing they want to do with four senior starters graduating this season and only one player returning from either of the Final Four appearances the team played in two and three seasons ago: Ethan Happ. Despite that anxiety for the future, the team still has reason to be optimistic as the program brings in possibly its best recruiting class in its history with the arrival of four-star shooting guard Kobe King, four-star forward Nathan Reuvers and three-star forward Brad Davison.
Outside of recruiting, the team will also bring what will be a redshirt freshman standout in Alleem Ford to Missouri, who is currently sitting this season to give him for of opportunity to play next year. Those upsides, however, are all inexperienced and unproven and could get their first test against three of the best teams in the country.
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While the Bruins, Blue Jays and Bears all lose crucial parts to their identities this season, much like the Badgers, they each boast top 25 recruiting classes for next season and will challenge UW to grow up in a hurry. In fact, each one of these four teams has been in the AP top 10 this season for at least a week and UCLA is probably the most historic program in all of college basketball with 11 overall national championships and the potential to add another one this postseason.
Wisconsin has never truly been looked upon as one of the most successful teams in the non-conference, but it will get its opportunity to rewrite that narrative against these basketball blue bloods Nov. 20-21 this next fall. Given the excitement around the Classic a long nine months away, the games will no doubt be televised and more information regarding the rest of the field will be released shortly.