A lot of the focus in the college sports world is on the start of football training camps. Indeed, Northwestern has a lot to be excited about on the gridiron this year. The Wildcats have plenty of questions to answer.
Last year’s banner year for the two revenue sports — a bowl win and the first ever NCAA Tournament appearance — should give way to another big season.
The football team begins its preparations for training camp soon. Now the men’s basketball team has a better idea of what it will take to get back to the NCAA Tournament. Something the Wildcats are expected to do.
Northwestern released its non-conference basketball schedule Thursday. It is a somewhat underwhelming slate for a team that is angling to make the NCAA Tournament again. There do not appear to be a ton of chances to build up a strong RPI. Northwestern will have to bank a lot of wins and perform well in Big Ten play to assure their second straight NCAA Tournament.
Northwestern will open play at Allstate Arena on Nov. 10 against Loyola (Maryland). Remember, the Wildcats will play their home games in Rosemont this year as Welsh-Ryan Arena undergoes a complete renovation. That might explain the somewhat weakened schedule. The Wildcats have the added struggle of playing their home games on a virtual neutral court.
The highlight of the non-conference schedule is Northwestern’s trip to Uncasville, Conn., for the Nasimith Memorial Hall of Fame Tip Off Classic. The Wildcats will play LaSalle on Nov. 18 and then either Texas Tech or Boston College the following day.
While the schedule does not contain a ton of “sexy” names for RPI purposes, there are a few solid program.
Northwestern will host Creighton in the Gavitt Games and the team has strong road games against Georgia Tech in the ACC/B1G Challenge and Oklahoma.
Northwestern will have to have strong showings in these critical games to build the kind of resume that leaves a margin for error in Big Ten play.
The Wildcats’ Big Ten schedule will be challenging, but not terrible overall.
— NU Men's Basketball (@NUMensBball) August 1, 2017
Double matchups with Wisconsin and Minnesota could really help Northwestern build its resume. Not to mention create some differentiation in head-to-head matchups for bubble teams.
Northwestern did not catch a break with one offs on the road against Indiana and Purdue. But road wins do better to build a resume.
The Wildcats are expected to make the NCAA Tournament once again. They will have their work cut out for them. But they are more than capable of managing this schedule and dancing once again.