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Wisconsin coach Greg Gard will see a familiar face on the other bench in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Wisconsin’s B1G/ACC Challenge matchup lacks buzz, big recruiting weekend for the Badgers and more

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Today is Friday, June 9, and this is what’s for breakfast.


Big Ten/ACC Chal… yawn

Virginia is a good program and Tony Bennett is a great coach. But there can’t be more than a handful of fans actually interested in seeing the Cavaliers and Badgers match up for a third time in six years in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. And yet, that’s exactly the game we were gifted with for the annual showcase in November.

The pairings, which were released Thursday morning, will see Wisconsin travel to Charlottesville, Va., a trip the Badgers made just four years ago that resulted in an even-uglier-than-it-sounds 48-38 victory.

So why does the 19th year of the challenge feature two teams playing so soon after their back-to-back meetings in 2012 and ’13? Well, it likely has something to do with the many similarities between the two schools and programs. Both universities are highly regarded academic institutions, while both teams value every possession, play tough defense and more often than not are led by veteran players — a rarity in the age of one-and-done kids. Add in that Bennett is a Wisconsin native and served with Badgers’ coach Greg Gard on the same staff for two seasons under Bo Ryan, and this is what you get.

But that’s flawed thinking. Sure, quite a few people were calling for Bennett to be Ryan’s replacement when the latter first announced his retirement in June of 2015, but the chances that would happen were always slim. And it’s not like there is some bad blood between Bennett and Gard because of it. The two respect each other, and it’s difficult to find anyone that has something bad to say about either of them.

There’s just no story there. And the fact the teams are so similar is a played-out narrative from the last two times they met. It’s just not interesting anymore.

The conferences should consider finding match-ups that are both competitive and fresh. The buzz around a game against Louisville, the closest thing to a polar opposite for Wisconsin, would be fun. Games against teams the Badgers haven’t faced before in the Challenge — Miami and Notre Dame — would be better than facing off against Virginia. Heck, rematches against recent opponents in the NCAA Tournament — Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh — would be more attractive.

No one is so unrealistic as to think the Badgers will play Duke or North Carolina every year, but there needs to be some diversity. Wisconsin and Virginia is just a very underwhelming choice.

Big weekend ahead on gridiron

June is an important recruiting month in football, and this weekend will be among the biggest for the Badgers. According to Jon McNamara of Rivals.com, all 10 of the Badgers’ current commitments in the Class of 2018 are expected to be on campus, as will several targets who will take part in one-day high school camps Wisconsin is running on Friday and Saturday.

Based on who’s coming, there’s a good chance the Badgers’ 2018 class will grow. Among the more anticipated attendees is Green Bay (Wis.) Bay Port 3-star offensive lineman Jack Plumb. Ranked the No. 3 player in Wisconsin by 247Sports, Plumb has seen his stock soar this spring with scholarship offers from Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Arizona State and Michigan State in the last three months. While he has other unofficial visits set, including Michigan State next week, there are some who believe he could commit to the Badgers this weekend.

Others expected in town include Indianapolis Lawrence Central 4-star linebacker Cam McGrone, Austin (Texas) Westlake 3-star running back Nakia Watson, Rockwood (Mich.) Oscar A. Carlson 3-star athlete Jaylan Franklin, and Humble (Texas) Atascocita 3-star cornerback Travian Blaylock. All four have offers from Wisconsin.

In addition to 2018 players, the camps will also serve as an evaluation time for Class of 2019 and 2020 prospects. A number of former Badgers, including 2013 Big Ten Linebacker of the Year Chris Borland, earned a scholarship offer based on their work in camps like these.

Goal!

It was just an international friendly, but it was still a big moment for Rose Lavelle. The former Wisconsin women’s soccer star notched the only goal in the United States’ victory against Sweden on Thursday, the Americans’ first win against the Swedes in their last four matches.

The midfielder has made a big splash on the national stage since being called up for the first time back in November of 2015. The goal Thursday was her second in just five caps with the senior team.

Catching up

  • Jim Polzin at the Wisconsin State Journal writes the Big Ten/ACC Challenge game between Wisconsin and Virginia features two programs in transition.
  • From Madison.com: Wisconsin women’s hockey schedule set for the 2017-18 season.
  • Former Badgers LB T.J. Watt unlikely to start in Week 1 for Pittsburgh.