While Northwestern's involvement in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic was already known (we broke down the Wildcats non-conference schedule about a month ago), their opponent in the opening round was still to be announced. Well according to CBS Sports, sources have said that Northwestern will square off against North Carolina in the first round.
The news of drawing North Carolina in the first of two games here is good news for the Wildcats as it'll help shore up a decisively weak non-conference slate that was previously highlighted by Virginia Tech and DePaul. North Carolina is coming off of a 26-12 season that ended with a seven point loss to #1 seed Wisconsin in the Sweet 16. The showdown, set to take place in Kansas City, will give Chris Collins' team a quality opponent, something desperately lacking the first two months of the season. While it may be nice to pad the early season with some wins, it could leave Northwestern a bit unprepared for the increasingly difficult Big Ten season.
Depending on the results of the first two games, the Wildcats will then tip off against either Kansas State or Missouri the next day. Both Kansas State and MIssouri are coming off of losing seasons, though both teams will be relatively difficult as they have a decisive advantage when it comes to the CBE Hall of Fame Classic taking place essentially in their own backyard. At the very least, both teams should be a bit more challenging than Virginia Tech and DePaul, especially if Northwestern ends up playing Kansas State.
North Carolina will be the first of two ACC teams the Wildcats play next season as they'll also travel to Virginia Tech about a week later for the Big Ten / ACC Challenge.