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Two games in Cancun, home matchups with NCAA tournament teams Florida and Marquette, a road game at Virginia and now a neutral site game in the Mount Rushmore State are making up a very interesting, and challenge, nonconference schedule for the University of Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin men’s basketball team will open the 2013-14 regular season in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Nov. 8. In an effort to showcase the newly-built, $19 million Sanford Pentagon facility, the Badgers will play a nationally televised game against the St. John’s Red Storm.
The Nov. 8 showdown will mark the fourth meeting between the teams, but the first in over a decade. Wisconsin holds a 3-0 series lead, including a 1-0 mark in neutral site games after defeating St. John’s, 80-70, during the opening round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament.
“In terms of locale, Wisconsin fans from around the Midwest will have the opportunity to travel to Sioux Falls and watch the game, and it just made sense for us in terms of intelligent travel for our team,” UW associate head coach Greg Gard said in a statement. “We’ve been approached by several broadcasting networks to play a neutral site game around the world and we felt that given the time of when it needed to be played, the location and the opponent that this was a great fit for us.”
Wisconsin’s showdown with the Red Storm will be played on the 3,250-seat Heritage Court, the centerpiece of the 160,000-square foot facility that makes up the Sanford Pentagon. Former Wisconsin basketball player Joe Krabbenhoft, now the Badgers' video coordinator, is a native of Sioux Falls. His father, Kelby, is the CEO of Sanford Health, which likely helped to spur on the move.
St. John's finished last season 17-16 and lost to Virginia in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament.
“The relationship Coach Ryan has with Coach (Steve) Lavin also made it a more appealing game,” Gard added. “They have had a long-standing relationship and with the game featuring Midwest and East Coast programs, it brings some flavor to the schedule.”
Wisconsin will use the game against St. John’s as a home date, though the game will be considered a neutral contest for RPI and other competitive purposes. Television rights and time have yet to be determined.
The Badgers will be part of the first Division I college basketball game played at the Pentagon, which features nine basketball courts and a main floor that will become home to the NBDL’s Sioux Falls Skyforce. On Oct. 10, the Pentagon will host an NBA exhibition game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Pentagon, which has five sides as the name implies, features executive suites, training rooms and fan amenities. The facility is scheduled to open in the fall.