Nov. 9: vs. Eastern Illinois
Nov. 14: at Stanford
Nov. 17: vs. Illinois State
Nov. 20: at UIC
Nov. 22-29 Las Vegas Invitational
Dec. 4: at NC State (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)
Dec. 7: vs. Western Michigan
Dec. 16: vs. Mississippi Valley State
Dec. 22: vs. Brown
Dec. 27: vs. DePaul
Ready or not, here it comes.
On Tuesday, we learned just how and when the Chris Collins era of Northwestern basketball would start with the release of the team's 2013 non-conference schedule. Though it's hard to say one way or another how challenging the Wildcats' campaign will be, there are some immediate takeaways.
Much of Northwestern's non-conference schedule features rematches of games from last season—namely Stanford, Illinois State, UIC, Mississippi Valley State and Brown. The Wildcats went 3-2 against these squads last season, beating Mississippi Valley and Brown at Welsh-Ryan and defeating Illinois State to win the South Padre Island Invitational. They did drop a two-point game to Stanford and a six-point game to UIC. It will be interesting to see how Collins' new-look squad fares against these same teams.
Carolina on my mind
Northwestern is earning a track record of nifty match-ups in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
After giving future conference foe Maryland an unofficial welcome to the Big Ten in Evanston last season, the Wildcats will travel to Raleigh to take on North Carolina State. NC State is a mere 25 miles from Chris Collins' former home, Duke.
The matchup won't likely have the same emotional ties as one in Durham would. Even so, you can bet that some of the Duke faithful will root a little harder for one of their own once he comes back home.
Potential marquee matchups
The Wildcats will spend Thanksgiving 2013 in Sin City, where they will compete in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational along with Nevada, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Morehead State, IUPUI and Gardner-Webb.
Oh yeah, UCLA and Missouri will be there, too.
If the Cats can claw their way out of the lower rounds, they have the chance to face off with two of the nation's most competitive teams. Expectations for this team are, and should be, tempered, but wins against either UCLA or Missouri can mean a lot to a team in the midst of a rebuild.