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Northwestern basketball releases non-conference schedule

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There aren't many surprises here.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Northwestern vs Vanderbilt Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern Men's Basketball has released its full non-conference schedule for the 2017-2018 season; most of the games on the schedule had already been reported, but now the dates are confirmed.

The non-conference schedule consists of eight home games, three road games and two neutral site games. The three games that hadn't been previously announced are Loyola (MD), Chicago State and Lewis University.

Northwestern will open the season at Allstate Arena against Loyola (MD), which finished last season 16-17 and 227th in the country in KenPom. The Wildcats beat the Greyhounds 74-49 in December 2015 at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Chicago State will also come to Allstate Arena next season, after giving the Wildcats a major scare at Welsh-Ryan last season. The Cougars finished an abysmal 335th in KenPom (they went just 6-26 on the season), but stuck with Northwestern for nearly the entire game last December, falling just 68-64.

The third newly announced opponent is Lewis, a DII school that fell to Illinois 95-51 in a preseason exhibition before last season.

The headliner opponents on the Wildcats' non-con slate will be Creighton (November 15 at Allstate), the Hall of Fame Tip-Off games (La Salle and either Texas Tech/Boston College November 18th and 19th at Mohegan Sun), Georgia Tech (November 28th in Atlanta) and Oklahoma (December 22nd in Norman).

There aren't a ton of quality games on the non-conference schedule, which leaves Chris Collins's group with little margin for error during the early parts of the year. The Big Ten projects to be stronger at the top than it was last season, though, so there will be ample opportunities for Northwestern to pick up signature wins.