St. John's opens the season in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in the brand new Sanford Pentagon Sports Complex, which made St. John's fans ask "why?" Sioux Falls is nowhere near to Madison, Wisconsin - it's 436 miles from the Badger campus to the complex, straight west on I-90, crossing the lower half of the state of Minnesota*.
So how did these two teams get hooked up with this game? Family connection. From ESPN's Andy Katz:
Give Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan credit (and St. John's Steve Lavin for agreeing to do it) for staying true to a former player and current staffer in Joe Krabbenhoft. His dad, Kelby, the CEO for Sanford Health, is behind the new Sanford Pentagon basketball facility in Sioux Falls, S.D. Wisconsin plays St. John's in South Dakota to open the season Nov. 8...
Krabbenhoft, the newly-hired video coordinator for Bo Ryan's team, played for the Badgers until 2009. He also played for the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the NBA D-League.
Family connection aside, the matchup will be a good test for both teams; the Badgers have an elite defense and are careful with the ball, while bringing size; on the other side, the Red Storm also have an excellent defense and are careful with the ball, while bringing athleticism.
The neutral site addition - even if the crowd might have a decidedly pro-Krabbenhoft vibe - adds extra flavor and quirk to what could be one of the better non-conference matchups to open the season.