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Northwestern basketball 2018-19 Big Ten conference matchups announced

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Who is coming to new Welsh-Ryan Arena next year?

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Penn State vs Northwestern Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern learned a bit more about its schedule next winter when the Big Ten conference announced its 2018-19 conference opponent schedule Thursday afternoon.

The conference is moving to a 20-game schedule next season, meaning Northwestern will play seven teams both at home and on the road, and six teams either at home or on the road. The breakdown is as follows:

Home only: Minnesota, Purdue, Penn State

Away only: Maryland, Michigan State, Nebraska

Home and away: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State, Rutgers, Wisconsin

Notably, Illinois and Northwestern will match up twice, something that didn’t happen in 2017-18. Protecting in-state rivalries was intentional, according to Big Ten Assistant Commissioner Kerry Kenny.

“The new schedules ensure that all three of the Big Ten’s in-state rivals – Illinois/Northwestern, Indiana/Purdue, and Michigan/Michigan State – will play twice on an annual basis,” Kenny said via press release.

Northwestern’s road only schedule of Michigan State, Maryland, and Nebraska looks brutal compared to a team like Michigan, who faces Illinois, Iowa, and Rutgers on the road. Nonetheless, the Wildcats won’t have to trek to Mackey Arena, where Purdue has only four losses over the past three years. Moreover, playing Purdue, Michigan State, and Maryland only once while getting Iowa, Illinois, and Rutgers twice is helpful.