Wisconsin cases down to 5; expects to play Sat.


Wisconsin expects to resume play this week at Michigan after the number of active COVID-19 cases in the program has dropped to five.

The Badgers on Monday began their normal game preparations, and will practice every day this week while monitoring the daily COVID-19 testing results. Wisconsin canceled its last two games, against Nebraska (Oct. 31) and Purdue (Nov. 7), following a COVID-19 outbreak among players and staff members. The program at one point had 27 active cases — 15 players, 12 staff members — but currently has only two among players and three among staff members.

Wisconsin has had no positive tests in five of the past six days, and only two people — one player, one staff member — have tested positive since Nov. 2. Head coach Paul Chryst, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 28, returned to in-person duties Thursday after completing his isolation period. Wisconsin, which paused all team activities Oct. 28, began limited on-field conditioning Friday while maintaining masks for all personnel and social distancing protocols.

“We had no new positives on Tuesday and Wednesday, which was a great sign,” athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a prepared statement. “That’s when we started thinking Friday could be a day we could get the team together to start doing things with an eye towards having a regular practice week this week. So we were cautious on Friday and Saturday, split guys into groups, and just did conditioning. The team then got together and held its regular Monday practice this morning.

“We feel confident that we have a handle on the situation and are excited to play this week at Michigan. As we have done throughout, we will continue to monitor our testing results and base our decision on those results.”

Alvarez previously said Wisconsin never reached the Big Ten’s “red/red” designation for team positivity, which requires upcoming competition to be canceled.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh on Monday said he’s “assuming” the game will take place.

Wisconsin, which opened the season Oct. 23 with a win against Illinois, likely must play its remaining five regular-season games to qualify for the West Division title and the Big Ten championship game. In order to compete in the game, a team must play at least six games.

If the average number of Big Ten games falls below six, then teams must play no less than two fewer games than the Big Ten average to be considered for the league championship. The champion will be determined in each division by its winning percentage, unless there is an unbalanced schedule because of the cancellation of games. If that’s the case, there are several scenarios in play.

If two or more teams have the same number of conference losses, but a different number of wins, head-to-head results will take precedence over winning percentage. If the canceled game was between the two teams with the same winning percentage, the records of the two tied teams will be compared based on winning percentage within their division.

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