Early on Tuesday morning, Chris Collins and the Northwestern Wildcats released the full 2019 non-conference men’s basketball schedule. Unsurprisingly (given the games we already knew about), there aren’t many power conference opponents on the list.
Outside of their Gavitt Games and ACC/B1G Challenge ties, where the Wildcats will go up against relatively weak opponents in Providence and Boston College respectively, the team’s only other power conference foes will be either Kansas State or Pitt during the Fort Myers Tip-Off and DePaul in a continuation of the crosstown series.
This relatively underwhelming schedule continues a pattern for Chris Collins and co. According to KenPom.com, Northwestern has never had a top-200 non-conference strength of schedule under Collins, finishing 323rd out of 353 Division 1 programs in the 2018-2019 season (their lowest ever finish was 349th in 2016).
With a rebuilding roster, the Wildcats are probably hoping to ease what will be a young and inexperienced group of contributors into Division 1 play. It remains to be seen how effective that strategy will be, but it’s difficult to imagine them selling many season tickets, which they opened up today, to a home non-conference slate of Quincy, Merrimack, Providence, Radford, Norfolk State, SIU-Edwardsville and Hartford.