Northwestern announced its 2009-10 mens basketball schedule on Monday. It's a schedule designed to get the Wildcats into the NCAA Tournament. There is great potential here for the victories needed to get Northwestern to the Big Dance.
There are 13 non-conference games on the schedule. There is one game that - against Butler at Welsh-Ryan Arena - that is likely a loss, but all of the other games should be close or solid victories for the Wildcats. Games against Notre Dame and Stanford give Northwestern chances for victories against "name" opponents. (A victory against the Bulldogs would be icing on the cake.) A win at N.C. State would give the Wildcats a decent road victory.
Northern Illinois, Tennessee State, Liberty, North Carolina A&T, North Florida, Central Connecticut State, Texas-Pan American and Chicago State aren't sexy names, but they should be good confidence building (or fine-tuning) games.
An 11-2 non-conference record with a 9-7 Big Ten record would mean a 20-9 season and a legitimate place on the NCAA Tournament bubble. (Especially if Northwestern could win a Big Ten Tournament game or two.) That's the dream, right? This schedule does a great job of making it a reality.