Spencer Allen certainly doesn’t shy away from scheduling top nonconference opponents for his team, a fact apparent when the Northwestern baseball program released its 2017 schedule on Friday afternoon.
The Wildcats struggled to a 15-39 record last season in Allen’s first year on the job in Evanston. However, Northwestern played a bunch of quality opponents both in the Big Ten and out of it, as perennial contenders California, Nevada and San Diego State were all on the Wildcats’ slate.
Northwestern’s schedule is difficult right out of the gate in 2017, as the Wildcats open their campaign in Tempe against the Arizona State Sun Devils on February 17. Aside from producing constant MLB talent — Barry Bonds, Dustin Pedroia, Reggie Jackson and Andre Ethier all played there — the Sun Devils have made the NCAA Regionals each of the last four seasons.
After leaving Arizona, Northwestern heads to Nashville to take part in the Music City Classic. Trips to Santa Clara and Portland — with a home game against UIC in the middle — and a home series with Central Michigan round out the nonconference slate. Air Force also makes a trip to Evanston for a three-game set at the end of March.
As for the Big Ten opponents Northwestern will face, the Wildcats get a reprieve as they don’t have to play powerhouse Ohio State. Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State and Rutgers will all take on Northwestern at Rocky and Berenice Miller Park while the Wildcats have to go on the road for Illinois, Penn State, Purdue and Maryland.
Here’s what Allen thinks about the schedule: