The Land of Cupcakes - Northwestern's 2010-11 Schedule

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 11: Forward John Shurna #24 of the Northwestern Wildcats drives with the ball against the Indiana Hoosiers during the first round of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 11, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Northwestern's 2010-11 men's basketball schedule has been released and it's a doozy. It looks sort of like a Candy Land board because of all the cupcakes you'll find on it. I don't know if Bill Carmody doesn't trust his sort of young team (except that he's got a senior point guard in Michael Thompson and a stud junior in John Shurna), or that no one will play the Wildcats, but Northwestern's schedule is light.

The schedule includes only two guaranteed true road games during non-conference play. (The Wildcats could get a third if they play St. John's at Madison Square Garden in December.)
It includes seven home games against mid or low-major non-conference opponents, against whom the Wildcats will be significant favorites. 
What it doesn't include are the marquee games necessary to be selected as a bubble team on Selection Sunday. Unless one of the mid-major schools has a Butler-like season (and none were in the Mid-Major Top 25 last season) then there is only going to be one "good" win on the schedule if the Wildcats go undefeated in non-conference play - against Georgia Tech on November 30.
So it'll come down to Big Ten Conference play. That's where the Wildcats are going to have to get their impact victories. Where are some places that might happen?

These are just guesses, but the Wildcats need to split these games in order to even have a hope of making the NCAA Tournament as a bubble team.

  • at Purdue - December 31, 2010
  • vs. Michigan State - January 3, 2011
  • at Illinois - January 6, 2011
  • at Michigan State - January 15, 2011
  • vs. Wisconsin - January 23, 2011
  • vs. Ohio State - January 29, 2011
  • vs. Illinois - February 5, 2011
  • at Wisconsin - February 27, 2011
That's eight games against the five teams that are almost guaranteed to be in front of the Wildcats in the Big Ten standings. (Note: Games against Minnesota will also be huge.) It's an even split of home and road games, but it's heavily front-loaded. Northwestern will have to be raring to go as soon as Big Ten play begins. If that doesn't happen it'll be time for Wildcats fans to start crossing their fingers for a miracle Big Ten Tournament run.
It's certainly going to be an interesting season.
Other takes on Northwestern's schedule:

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