Wisconsin sports fans no longer have the Super Bowl to look forward too, but at least they have Super Saturday. Wisconsin men’s basketball and hockey will be traveling to New York for matchups against Rutgers and Ohio State, respectively, come this weekend. It is the second annual Big Ten Super Saturday at Madison Square Garden, an event that features a basketball and hockey game back to back in one of the country’s most famous venues. At 11:00 a.m. CT, the Badgers and Scarlet Knights will tip off, followed by hockey at 6:00 p.m. CT.
Rutgers has only won a single Big Ten game this season, beating Nebraska by one on a tip-in, and at the beginning of the season, the Badgers beat them by 20 points at the Kohl Center. However, this time, Rutgers will have the home court advantage, as New Brunswick, New Jersey is less than an hour drive from MSG in downtown Manhattan. Playing a better team on a big stage can cause some problems for the favorite, as well.
Rutgers certainly isn’t playing bad basketball, they are just playing a tough conference. While the Big Ten only has three teams in the top 25 at the moment, no team is an easy team to play. Each team that Rutgers and the rest of the Big Ten have had to face have the depth to rotate players and still win games – a major reason why 13 of 14 Big Ten teams had winning records coming into conference play. Rutgers isn’t going to let the challenge of playing the Badgers stop them from pressing hard – when challenged in the regular season during the famous run of the ’14-’15 Badgers team, Rutgers won. They are well organized, well coached, and fairly physical this year, and while they may not have the skill that the rest of the conference has, the Scarlet Knights are challenging their opponents to step up their game. As usual, if the Badgers’ Big Three (Koenig, Hayes, Happ) step up and play good ball, they should be able to get another double digit win.
The Wisconsin hockey team will play the second game of their series with No. 8 Ohio State following the basketball game. The Badgers defeated the Buckeyes in a thriller in Columbus on Thursday night, in which Luke Kunin, Matthew Freytag and Ryan Wagner all scored. The Badgers will look to sweep the talented Buckeyes in the second game in three days at MSG.
It is a rare opportunity for a university to get to play in a world renowned venue, and it is even more rare that both the basketball and hockey teams get to play there on the same day. Hopefully, the magic of Madison Square Garden will rub off and Wisconsin will go 2-0 on the day.