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BREAKING: 2020-21 Northwestern women’s basketball schedule released

Can the ‘Cats manufacture another magical year?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 25 Women’s Northwestern at Ohio State Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The reigning Big Ten champions have their path to a repeat title laid in front of them.

Northwestern women’s basketball announced its 2020-21 schedule with just under two weeks before the team is set to tip off its season on December 6 against Bradley. The Wildcats will play three nonconference games in addition to a 20-game Big Ten slate.

Each Big Ten team can play up to five nonconference games, and the Wildcats will face Bradley, Eastern Illinois and Eastern Kentucky. The Big Ten decided to axe the ACC/Big Ten Women’s Basketball challenge in October, and NU doesn’t have any marquee out-of-conference matchups.

In their 20-game conference season, the ‘Cats will face seven opponents twice and the remaining six schools once. Of the projected top teams in the conference, NU will play Maryland and Indiana once, with both of those games at Welsh-Ryan Arena. It’s scheduled to face talented Michigan and Ohio State teams twice.

Just like for men’s basketball, the Big Ten built in corresponding byes throughout the schedule and a collapsible bye in the final week of the regular season to allow for maximum flexibility. As a result of the expanded and elongated conference schedule, the Big Ten Tournament will be held March 9-13 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

NU was ranked second in the conference by Big Ten media voters and fourth by the coaches and slotted in at 17th in the preseason AP Poll. The ‘Cats finished the 2019-20 season ranked 12th after a record setting year in which they went 26-4 and 16-2 in regular season conference play.