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Mizzou Gives Clues About Northwestern's Vegas Opponents

Northwestern has yet to officially find out its opponents for the 2013 Las Vegas Invitational — matchups won't be announced until June or July — but thanks to the Missouri athletic department, we got some clues as to which two teams the Wildcats will be playing in the four-team field. If the Tigers' athletic department is correct, it looks like the Wildcats could draw both Mizzou and UCLA. The release from Missouri:

As part of the event Missouri will host two home games at Mizzou Arena and will then travel to Las Vegas for games against Northwestern and Nevada. The tournament will be hosted as a “Classic” with Mizzou and UCLA scheduled to finish a home and home series at Mizzou Arena next season.

The Missouri-UCLA home-and-home figured to cause problems from the beginning, and it seemed likely that at the very least, Missouri and UCLA would start on opposite sides of the bracket. Now, from the looks of things, there won't be a bracket at all. Rather, Missouri will have a predetermined schedule against Northwestern and Nevada. That means Northwestern's other game must be against UCLA. Again, these matchups haven't been officially announced, but unless Missouri was extremely misinformed, the only schedule possibility for NU is to draw Mizzou and UCLA.

There's good and bad to this for NU. The obvious bad is that the Missouri and UCLA are both much better than Nevada. This makes an already tough non-conference schedule — one including games at Butler, Stanford and NC State, and possibly another high-profile game at home — that much tougher. However, for the Wildcats to have any chance of getting into the NCAA Tournament, they have to pick up some quality non-conference wins. They'll have plenty of opportunities, including two in Vegas.