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Northwestern's 2014/15 basketball schedule is complete

We already knew whom Northwestern would play in its 18 conference games, but now we know when. Get your calendars ready.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

College basketball season is still months away, but Thursday, it seemingly grew a bit nearer.

In a live announcement on BTN, the Big Ten released its conference schedule for the upcoming basketball season, complete with opponents, locations and dates. With Northwestern already having announced its 13-game non-conference schedule, the Wildcats' 2014-15 slate is now set in stone.

Here it is in its entirety:

The Schedule

Nov. 14 vs. Houston Baptist
Nov. 17 at Brown
Nov. 20 vs. Northern Florida*
Nov. 22 vs. Elon*
Nov. 25 vs. Miami (Ohio)**
Nov. 26 vs. Virginia Tech OR Northern Iowa**
Dec. 3 vs. Georgia Tech***
Dec. 6 at Butler
Dec. 14 vs. Mississippi Valley State
Dec. 17 vs. Central Michigan
Dec. 20 vs. Western Michigan
Dec. 22 vs. UIC
Dec. 27 vs. Northern Kentucky
Dec. 30 at Rutgers
Jan. 4 vs. Wisconsin
Jan. 11 at Michigan State
Jan. 14 vs. Illinois
Jan. 17 at Michigan
Jan. 22 vs. Ohio State
Jan. 25 at Maryland
Jan. 31 vs. Purdue
Feb. 3 at Nebraska
Feb. 7 at Wisconsin
Feb. 10 vs. Michigan State
Feb. 15 vs. Iowa
Feb. 18 at Minnesota
Feb. 21 vs. Penn State
Feb. 25 vs. Indiana
Feb. 28 at Illinois
March 3 vs. Michigan
March 7 at Iowa

*Cancun Challenge
**Cancun Challenge (Puerto Aventuras, Mexico)
***Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Solely based on the opponents staring Northwestern in the face, we knew this was going to be a tough conference schedule. That might have even weighed on Collins' mind during the construction of the non-conference slate. But seeing how it has materialized just emphasizes the difficulty. There are multiple merciless stretches.

After opening the conference season at Rutgers, Northwestern faces a brutal five-game, or even six-game stretch. The Wildcats' Big Ten home opener will be against Wisconsin (just as it was last year); they then travel to Michigan State, host Illinois, hit the road again to play Michigan, return home for Ohio State, and then take another long journey to Maryland.

Later on there's a four game stretch that includes trips to Nebraska and Wisconsin, and home dates with Michigan State and Iowa. The stretch run could be tough too, with a visit from Michigan sandwiched by games at Illinois and at Iowa.

We always knew it was going to be tough, but this just paints an even clearer picture.