UW men's basketball: Badgers will host Virginia in 2012 Big Ten/ACC Challenge

2012-05-15T04:45:00Z 2012-05-24T15:50:39Z UW men's basketball: Badgers will host Virginia in 2012 Big Ten/ACC ChallengeJIM POLZIN | Wisconsin State Journal | jpolzin@madison.com | 608-252-6473 | @JimPolzinWSJ madison.com

The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball program will welcome an old friend back to the Kohl Center next season.

The Badgers host Virginia, coached by former UW assistant Tony Bennett, in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 28. Game time and television network will be announced at a later date.

The Cavaliers went 22-10 last season under Bennett, the son of former Badgers coach Dick Bennett. Virginia advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007 but lost to Florida 71-45 in its opening game.

Points likely will be at a premium when the Badgers play the Cavaliers for the first time since 1998.

UW and Virginia had the top two scoring defenses in the nation last season. The Badgers, who went 26-10 and advanced to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 before being eliminated by Syracuse, allowed 53.2 points per game to lead the country. Virginia was next at 54.2 points per game and held 11 opponents to fewer than 50 points, the most by an ACC team in the shot clock era.

Both teams will replace their best player. UW loses point guard Jordan Taylor, who averaged a team-high 14.8 points and 4.1 assists as a senior and finished his career as the NCAA’s all-time leader in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.01. Virginia loses forward Mike Scott, who averaged a team-leading 18.0 points and 8.3 rebounds as a senior.

Tony Bennett, 42, who played briefly in the NBA after a stellar college career at UW-Green Bay, spent four seasons with the Badgers. He was a team manager in 1999-2000 when his father led the Badgers on a remarkable run to the Final Four. He moved into an assistant role the next season under his father and Brad Soderberg, who took over as coach when Dick Bennett announced his retirement early in the season.

When Bo Ryan was hired by UW in 2001, he retained Tony Bennett, who was instrumental in recruiting stars Devin Harris, Alando Tucker and Kirk Penney. Bennett spent two seasons under Ryan — both ended with the Badgers winning at least a share of the Big Ten Conference regular-season title — before once again joining forces with his father, who came out of retirement to undertake a major rebuilding project at Washington State.

Tony Bennett spent three seasons as an assistant with the Cougars before taking over as the head coach in 2006 when Dick Bennett again retired. Tony Bennett was named national coach of the year by several organizations following the 2006-07 season after leading the Cougars, who were picked to finish last in the Pac-10, to a 26-8 record.

Bennett has gone 122-74 in six seasons as a head coach, including 53-41 in three seasons at Virginia.

The Badgers are 1-1 all-time against the Cavaliers, with both games on neutral courts. Virginia beat UW 86-78 in the Milwaukee Classic on Dec. 27, 1974, and the Dick Bennett-led Badgers evened the series with a 66-56 victory over the Cavaliers in the Top of the World Classic on Nov. 21, 1998, in Fairbanks, Alaska.

UW’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge game against Virginia will be one of the highlights of a non-conference schedule that includes games against 2012 NCAA tournament participants California, Florida and Marquette.

California, which went 24-10 last season, will visit the Kohl Center, while UW will play at Florida (26-11) and Marquette (27-8). Marquette advanced to the Sweet 16 last season before falling to Florida, which lost to Louisville in the Elite Eight.

The Badgers also will play four games as part of the Las Vegas Invitational, including two at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Nov. 23-24.

UW is 6-7 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but the Badgers are 4-1 in the event in games played at the Kohl Center.

The Big Ten has won the past three Challenges after losing the first 10. The marquee games this season are North Carolina at Indiana, North Carolina State at Michigan and Ohio State at Duke.

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