Northwestern has begun adding pieces to its non-conference schedule for the 2017-2018 season. So far, three games and one tournament have been announced. Who are they playing and where?
Let’s take a look.
Northwestern will begin a home-and-home series with Oklahoma starting in the 2017-2018 season first. The Wildcats will travel to Oklahoma to visit the Sooners in 2017. In the non-conference portion of the 2018-2019 season, the Sooners will take a trip to Evanston to play in the newly renovated Welsh-Ryan Arena, which is scheduled to open at the beginning of the 2018-2019 season.
Oklahoma should offer an exciting opportunity for Northwestern.
Although the Sooners were in a bit of a rebuilding faze following the graduation of Buddy Hield during last season, Oklahoma has danced before and will dance again soon.
Simply put, Oklahoma is a strong non-conference opponent and a smart add for Chris Collins and his staff because it will give them a taste of what a potential post-season opponent could look like in the non-conference schedule.
Northwestern also added Valparaiso to their non-conference schedule. They will face the Crusaders at Allstate Arena. The date for the game has yet to be released.
Valparaiso is a competitive mid-major team and will be a strong match up for Northwestern. The Crusaders are one of the top teams in the Horizon League. Although Alec Peters is graduating, the Crusaders are poised for another impressive season in the league. Valparaiso just finished their first season under new head coach Matt Lottich. Lottich was promoted to head coach in April of 2016 after former head coach Bryce Drew left Valparaiso to take the head coaching job at Vanderbilt.
Northwestern also added St. Peter’s from the Mid Atlantic Athletic Conference to it’s non-conference schedule. St. Peter’s finished last season second in the MAAC with a 22-13 record, going 14-6 in conference play. They finished the season with a 62-61 win against Texas A&M Corpus Christi in the CIT Championship game.
Northwestern will also play in a tournament as part of their non-conference slate in 2017. Northwestern will also play in the Hall of Fame Tip. The matchups for the tournament have not been announced yet, however the teams participating have been. The other schools participating are La Salle, Texas Tech and Boston College.
There are also three mid-major teams that will play in the first two rounds of the tournament. Those are: Sacred Heart, Maine, St. Peters and South Alabama. The tournament will take place on November 18th and 19th at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
This is tournament Northwestern will have a solid chance of winning. The Wildcats should matchup well against any of the opponents they will ace in the first few rounds.
Overall, this is a solid start to Northwestern’s non-conference schedule. Although they are facing some mid-major teams, they are great choices. Northwestern will look to continue to add to its non-conference strength of schedule and adding Oklahoma, Valparaiso and St. Peter’s does just that.
It is expected that Chris Collins will continue to build the schedule with more difficult opponents compared to the past three seasons. The Wildcats are now an NCAA Tournament team and matching up against tough teams will help them try to return to the Big Dance for a second consecutive year.