Chris Collins and Northwestern have significant plans for improvement next year, but Friday, the fulfillment of those plans became a bit trickier.
The Big Ten announced its schedule for the 2014/15 basketball season -- without specific dates of course -- and, at least on paper, Northwestern looks to have received a rough slate.
With Maryland and Rutgers joining the Big Ten, the new 18-game schedule now only includes five home-and-homes, as opposed to the current (now old) format, which included seven. Of the five teams the Wildcats will play twice, four of them -- Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa -- currently sit in the top five of the Big Ten standings.
The fifth team is Illinois, meaning the Wildcats will travel to Champaign as well as welcome their in-state rivals to Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Wildcats and Illini squared off just once this season, a 49-43 win for NU in Evanston.
Neither of the conference's newcomers, Maryland and Rutgers, will travel to Welsh-Ryan, meaning Northwestern fans will have to wait until at least 2015/16 to get their initial glimpses of the Terrapins and the Scarlet Knights in person.
However, there'll be no dearth of home games to circle on the calendar. In addition to Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa, Ohio State and Indiana will also come to Evanston.
Here is the complete slate:
Home Games: Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Penn State
Away Games: Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, Rutgers