clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Big Ten’s Non-Conference Scheduling for 2019-20

Purdue and Michigan State lead the way with first-class schedules, while Minnesota didn’t do too badly considering some difficulties in getting games. On the other hand, many of the teams that could struggle built schedules with those in mind.

Big Ten teams ranked by schedule strength: top row 1-4, row 2 5-7, row 3 8-11, bottom 12-14
Image by Chris Dobbertean using logos from SportsLogos.net

For all of the posts in this series, visit the 2019-20 Non-Conference Scheduling Hub.

Warning: Tables may not appear optimally when viewing on a mobile device.

Ranking The Teams

Big Ten Four-Year Rankings

Team 4-Year Ranking 2018-19 Ranking Ranking Change
Team 4-Year Ranking 2018-19 Ranking Ranking Change
Michigan State 5 10 5
Purdue 7 8 1
Michigan 9 17 8
Wisconsin 20 22 2
Maryland 24 32 8
Ohio State 35 35 0
Indiana 42 44 2
Penn State 48 65 17
Iowa 49 56 7
Nebraska 56 72 16
Northwestern 64 63 -1
Minnesota 66 84 18
Illinois 89 81 -8
Rutgers 122 167 45
Average 45.42857143 54 8.571428571
Conference Rank 3rd of 32 (4th in 2018-19)

With 11 of the Big Ten’s 14 teams seeing their four-year rankings improve over the last year, it’s no surprise the conference leapt over the Big East and SEC into third place among the 32 Division I conferences. Plus, the league increased its memberships in the top 10 (from two to three), top 25 (four to five) and top 50 (seven to nine). Rutgers remains the lone Big Ten team outside of the national top 100, but the Scarlet Knights are now 45 places closer than they were entering the 2018-19 season. If they improve by even half as much this year—and no one else takes a step back—the Big Ten will be in business next season.

Ranking The Schedules

Big Ten Non-Conference Schedule Rankings

Average Schedule Strength Ranking 2019-20 Average Schedule Strength Ranking 2018-19 Team (* = number of TBD bracketed games) Average Schedule Strength 2019-20
Average Schedule Strength Ranking 2019-20 Average Schedule Strength Ranking 2018-19 Team (* = number of TBD bracketed games) Average Schedule Strength 2019-20
13 26 Purdue* 288.8863636
22 4 Michigan State** 276.0965909
30 211 Minnesota 268.8
45 82 Wisconsin* 254.2272727
59 276 Iowa* 248.25
68 91 Michigan** 244.5113636
90 23 Maryland** 237.5681818
92 98 Ohio State 236.1363636
124 50 Indiana 225.5681818
150 160 Penn State* 216.1590909
200 284 Northwestern* 200.25
202 119 Nebraska** 197.5909091
233 14 Illinois 185.6136364
331 214 Rutgers 140.1590909
118.5 118 Conference Average 229.9869318
6/32 4/32 Conference Rank

Heading into its second season with a 20-game conference schedule, the Big Ten’s non-league slates took a minor step back as a collective. Much of this can be blamed on Rutgers, which owns the second-worst power non-conference slate, with only East Carolina ranking lower nationally. And while the league doesn’t have a top five slate like Michigan State’s of a season ago, there are still three top 30 schedules. However, this is a drop from four in 2018-19.

Big Ten Road/Non-D1 Games

True Road Games Scheduled Road Games Scheduled Against Non-Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
True Road Games Scheduled Road Games Scheduled Against Non-Power 7 Teams Non-D1 Opponents Scheduled
20 (22 in 2018-19) 2 (4) 2 (1)
5th of Power 7 7th of Power 7 t-5th (Big 12, Big East)

When compared to last season, the Big Ten’s totals of true and non-power road games both declined, while the number of non-D1 contests scheduled doubled. Purdue is brave enough to travel to Athens to take on an Ohio team they hammered in West Lafayette last December, while Illinois visits Grand Canyon before heading down Interstate 10 to take on Arizona.

Indiana won’t play a true road game this season, while six Big Ten teams will play just one away contest during non-league play. Of the other seven members, none play more than two road games.

Big Ten Non-Conference Games By League

Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
Conference Games Scheduled Against Possible Tournament Games Against
ACC 16 4
Big East 15 3
SEC 7 5
Big 12 7 3
Summit 7 0
A 10 6 3
Horizon 6 0
MAC 6 0
Atlantic Sun 5 0
NEC 5 0
OVC 5 0
Southland 5 0
Pac-12 4 3
American Athletic 4 1
America East 4 0
Big South 4 0
MEAC 4 0
C-USA 3 2
Ivy 3 1
MAAC 3 1
Patriot 3 0
Big West 3 0
CAA 2 3
Non-D1 2 1
WAC 2 1
Big Sky 2 0
Sun Belt 2 0
WCC 1 2
MVC 1 1
SoCon 1 0
SWAC 1 0
MW 0 3

As expected, the Big Ten’s two series partners, the ACC and Big East, are well ahead of the rest of Division I in this table. The biggest surprise in this season’s standings is the rise of the Big 12 and SEC into a third-place tie with the Summit League. Last season, third spot went to the MEAC on its own. That conference now has just four Big Ten non-conference games on its slates for 2019-20. No Division I league is completely absent from Big Ten schedules, though the only way a Mountain West opponent will officially appear is in the later round of bracketed tournament play.

Amazingly, only a pair of teams appear on three Big Ten schedules, DePaul and Seton Hall from the Big East. Flipping it around, no Big Ten team will play more than two non-league games against teams from a single conference.

Big Ten Non-Conference Games By Quad

Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Opponent Strength Home Away Neutral Total Average Potential
Quad 1 7 13 11 31 2.214285714 12
Quad 2 10 6 5 21 1.5 13
Quad 3 17 1 6 24 1.714285714 5
Quad 4 61 0 0 61 4.357142857 3
Non-D1 2 0 0 2 0.1428571429 1
Total 97 20 22 139
Average 6.928571429 1.428571429 1.571428571 9.928571429
Percentage 0.6978417266 0.1438848921 0.1582733813
Rank (of 32 Conferences) 2nd 31st 5th
Q1 1-30 1-75 1-50
Q2 31-75 76-135 51-100
Q3 76-160 136-240 101-200
Q4 161-353 241-353 201-353

There’s a remarkable consistency at the top of this table, as the Big Ten lined up 31 Quad 1 games (based on the four-year rankings) both this season and last. There’s also been a bit of improvement at the bottom, with four fewer Quad 4 opportunities, with Quads 2 and 3 seeing marginally higher totals as a response.

The Big Ten By Team

Teams are listed in order of their Average Schedule Ranking. The number in front of an opponent name is its Four-Year Ranking.

Teams that failed to max out their schedules (2/14): Minnesota (no fourth MTE game), Northwestern

13. Purdue Boilermakers

*MTE: Emerald Coast Classic

Home Games (6) Neutral-Site Games (3) Road Games (2)
Home Games (6) Neutral-Site Games (3) Road Games (2)
1. Virginia^ 14. Tennessee or 33. Marquette#
34. Texas 16. Florida State* 158. Ohio
142. Jacksonville State* 38. Butler$ # - Gavitt Tip-Off
152. Central Michigan 61. VCU*
216. Green Bay $ - Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
349. Chicago State*
^ - ACC Challenge

Purdue Chronological

Date (Rank) Opponent Event 2018-19 Meeting (2-3)
Date (Rank) Opponent Event 2018-19 Meeting (2-3)
Nov. 6 216. Green Bay
Nov. 9 34. Texas UT 72-68 (@)
Nov. 13 33. Marquette Gavitt Tip-Off Games
Nov. 16 349. Chicago State Emerald Coast Classic
Nov. 23 142. Jacksonville State Emerald Coast Classic
Nov. 29 61. VCU Emerald Coast Classic (Niceville, Fla.)
Nov. 30 14. Tennessee or 16. Florida State Emerald Coast Classic (Niceville, Fla.) FSU 73-72 (@) PU 99-94 (OT/NCAA)
Dec. 4 1. Virginia Big Ten/ACC Challenge UVa 80-75 (OT/NCAA)
Dec. 17 158. Ohio PU 95-67 (H)
Dec. 21 38. Butler Crossroads Classic (Indianapolis)
Dec. 28 152. Central Michigan

The Boilermakers will be well-tested early as they attempt to improve upon last season’s Elite Eight appearance. Not only does Purdue get the team that knocked it out of the NCAAs, champion Virginia, in West Lafayette for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but they travel to Marquette for the Gavitt Games, host Texas in a very early high-quality home game, and take on Butler at the Crossroads Classic. And that lineup doesn’t even factor in Purdue’s exempt event, a stacked Emerald Coast Classic, which will see the Boilers take on A 10 favorite VCU, then either Florida State or Tennessee. And the bottom of the slate isn’t terrible either, as Chicago State is the lone truly bad opponent, and the Boilermakers make a rare trip to a MAC arena to play Ohio. This is non-conference scheduling done right, courtesy of Matt Painter.

22. Michigan State Spartans

*MTE: Maui Jim Maui Invitational

Home Games (5) Neutral-Site Games (5) Road Games (1)
Home Games (5) Neutral-Site Games (5) Road Games (1)
3. Duke^ 8. Kentucky$ 40. Seton Hall#
145. Eastern Michigan 19. Virginia Tech* # - Gavitt Games
213. Western Michigan 76. Dayton or
245. Charleston Southern* 77. Georgia*
328. Binghamton 10. Kansas/
^ - ACC Challenge 52. UCLA/
70. BYU/
(Non-D1) Chaminade*
132. Oakland!
$ - New York
! - Detroit

Michigan State Chronological

Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (2-1)
Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (2-1)
Nov. 5 8. Kentucky Champions Classic (New York)
Nov. 10 328. Binghamton
Nov. 14 40. Seton Hall Gavitt Tip-Off Games
Nov. 18 245. Charleston Southern Maui Jim Maui Invitational
Nov. 25 19. Virginia Tech Maui Jim Maui Invitational (Lahaina, Hawai'i)
Nov. 26 76. Dayton or 77. Georgia Maui Jim Maui Invitational (Lahaina, Hawai'i)
Nov. 27 10. Kansas/52. UCLA/ 70. BYU/(Non-D1) Chaminade Maui Jim Maui Invitational (Lahaina, Hawai'i) KU 92-87 (N)
Dec. 3 4. Duke Big Ten/ACC Challenge MSU 68-67 (NCAA)
Dec. 14 151. Oakland Little Caesars Arena, Detroit MSU 99-69 (H)
Dec. 21 145. Eastern Michigan
Dec. 29 213. Western Michigan

The Spartans picked a great year to finally participate in the Gavitt Tip-Off series, as the preseason No. 1 team of many is paired up with a Seton Hall Pirates team that should be far better than its four-year ranking of 40th. If that matchup and a season-opening Champions Classic tilt with Kentucky are the appetizers, Michigan State’s trip to Maui and visit from Duke for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge serve as the dual main courses. For dessert, a trio of winnable in-state matchups follow the first Big Ten window of the season, though Tom Izzo’s team will have to play Horizon contender Oakland at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

30. Minnesota Golden Gophers

*MTE: Minnesota MTE

Home Games (6) Neutral-Site Games (1) Road Games (2)
Home Games (6) Neutral-Site Games (1) Road Games (2)
22. Clemson^ 37. Oklahoma$ 38. Butler#
120. DePaul* 53. Oklahoma State! 65. Utah
152. Central Michigan* $ - Sioux Falls, S.D. # - Gavitt Tip-Off
235. FIU ! - Tulsa, Okla.
238. North Dakota*
300. Cleveland State
^ - ACC Challenge

Minnesota Chronological

Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (2-0)
Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (2-0)
Nov. 5 300. Cleveland State
Nov. 9 37. Oklahoma Sanford Pentagon, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Nov. 12 38. Butler Gavitt Tip-Off Games
Nov. 15 65. Utah UM 78-69 (H)
Nov. 21 152. Central Michigan Minnesota MTE
Nov. 24 238. North Dakota Minnesota MTE (waiver)
Nov. 29 120. DePaul Minnesota MTE
Dec. 2 22. Clemson Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Dec. 21 53. Oklahoma State BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla. UM 83-76 (N)
Dec. 28 231. FIU

Considering the difficulties Richard Pitino had in filling the Golden Gophers’ Minneapolis-focused exempt event, this is a high-quality schedule, even if it is a game short. Six of the 10 opponents are from power conferences, with five of them having a half-decent shot at reaching the NCAAs (sorry DePaul). Four of those matchups take place away from Williams Arena, with road trips to Butler and Utah, a Sanford Pentagon showdown with Oklahoma, and semi-road game against Oklahoma State in Tulsa all contests that aren’t for the faint of heart.

45. Wisconsin Badgers

*MTE: Roman Legends Classic Presented by Old Trapper

Home Games (6) Neutral-Site Games (3) Road Games (2)
Home Games (6) Neutral-Site Games (3) Road Games (2)
33. Marquette 18. Saint Mary's$ 14. Tennessee
185. Rider 27. Auburn or 47. NC State^
216. Green Bay* 131. New Mexico* ^ - ACC Challenge
255. Milwaukee 154. Richmond*
284. Eastern Illinois $ - Sioux Falls, S.D.
326. McNeese State*

Wisconsin Chronological

Date (Rank) Opponent Event 2018-19 Meeting (1-1)
Date (Rank) Opponent Event 2018-19 Meeting (1-1)
Nov. 5 18. Saint Mary's Sanford Pentagon, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Nov. 8 284. Eastern Illinois
Nov. 13 326. McNeese State Roman Legends Classic pres. by Old Trapper
Nov. 17 33. Marquette MU 74-69 (OT) (@)
Nov. 21 216. Green Bay Roman Legends Classic pres. by Old Trapper
Nov. 25 154. Richmond Roman Legends Classic pres. by Old Trapper (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Nov. 26 27. Auburn or 131. New Mexico Roman Legends Classic pres. by Old Trapper (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Dec. 4 47. NC State Big Ten/ACC Challenge UW 79-75 (H)
Dec. 21 255. Milwaukee
Dec. 28 14. Tennessee
Dec. 31 185. Rider

The Badgers rebounded nicely in 2018-19 after a 15-18 campaign the season prior, even if an NCAA First Round exit wasn’t the happiest ending. Wisconsin is one of several teams that will challenge itself early and often during November and December, starting with an Opening Night showdown against defending WCC Tournament champion Saint Mary’s at the Sanford Pentagon. While there are five winnable home games scattered around the slate, a possible Legends Classic championship showdown with Auburn, a visit from in-state rival Marquette, and December road trips to NC State and Tennessee will test the Badgers’ mettle.

59. Iowa Hawkeyes

*MTE: Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational

Home Games (6) Neutral-Site Games (3) Road Games (2)
Home Games (6) Neutral-Site Games (3) Road Games (2)
120. DePaul# 11. Texas Tech* 23. Iowa State
224. North Florida* 13. Cincinnati$ 39. Syracuse^
262. Oral Roberts 32. Creighton or ^ - ACC Challenge
322. Kennesaw State 72. San Diego State*
325. Cal Poly* $ - Chicago
329. SIU Edwardsville
# - Gavitt Tip-Off

Iowa Chronological

Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (2-0)
Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (2-0)
Nov. 8 329. SIU Edwardsville
Nov. 11 120. DePaul Gavitt Tip-Off Games
Nov. 15 262. Oral Roberts
Nov. 21 224. North Florida Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational
Nov. 24 325. Cal Poly Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational
Nov. 28 11. Texas Tech Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational (Las Vegas)
Nov. 29 32. Creighton or 72. San Diego State Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational (Las Vegas)
Dec. 3 39. Syracuse Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Dec. 12 23. Iowa State UI 98-84 (H)
Dec. 21 13. Cincinnati Chicago Legends (United Center, Chicago) UI 79-72 (NCAA)
Dec. 29 322. Kennesaw State

While the Hawkeyes’ home slate looks rather typical for Fran McCaffery’s tenure, Iowa’s five road and neutral games impress. Yes, the annual series with Iowa State is a given, even if the Hy-Vee Big Four Classic is now part of the history books, and a quality matchup is expected for the ACC Challenge, with Syracuse filling the role for 2019. But the Las Vegas Invitational field is a pleasant surprise, especially with 2019 NCAA runner-up Texas Tech featuring as the Hawks’ semifinal opponent. Plus, the Chicago Legends NCAA rematch with Cincinnati should be an opportunity for Iowa to pick up a strong win in front of what should be a relatively friendly crowd.

68. Michigan Wolverines

*MTE: Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis

Home Games (7) Neutral-Site Games (3) Road Games (1)
Home Games (7) Neutral-Site Games (3) Road Games (1)
29. Oregon 23. Iowa State* 12. Louisville^
32. Creighton# 4. North Carolina or ^ - ACC Challenge
227. Appalachian State 54. Alabama*
252. Elon* 2. Gonzaga/
299. UMass Lowell 29. Oregon/
309. Houston Baptist 40. Seton Hall/
318. Presbyterian 203. Southern Mississippi*
# - Gavitt Tip-Off

Michigan Chronological

Date (Rank) Opponent Event 2018-19 Meeting (0-0)
Date (Rank) Opponent Event 2018-19 Meeting (0-0)
Nov. 5 227. Appalachian State
Nov. 12 32. Creighton Gavitt Tip-Off Games
Nov. 15 252. Elon Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis
Nov. 22 309. Houston Baptist
Nov. 27 23. Iowa State Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis (Paradise Island, Bahamas)
Nov. 28 4. North Carolina or 54. Alabama Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis (Paradise Island, Bahamas)
Nov. 29 2. Gonzaga/29. Oregon/ 40. Seton Hall/203. Southern Mississippi Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis (Paradise Island, Bahamas)
Dec. 3 12. Louisville ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Dec. 14 29. Oregon
Dec. 21 318. Presbyterian
Dec. 29 299. UMass Lowell

With John Beilein now in the NBA with Cleveland, Juwan Howard begins his first season in charge of his alma mater with five winnable home games and six contests that will quickly give him an idea of how good his Wolverines can truly be. Unlike Iowa’s schedule immediately above, at least Michigan fans will get a couple of interesting games to check out at Crisler, as Creighton visits for the Gavitt series and Oregon also travels to Ann Arbor. The Ducks are also a possible day three opponent for Michigan in the stacked Battle 4 Atlantis. Of course, the Wolverines have to take on Iowa State and either North Carolina or Alabama before that could come to pass on Black Friday. And while Michigan only plays a single true road game, Louisville will be quite the ACC Challenge between a trip to the Bahamas and the first two Big Ten games of the campaign.

90. Maryland Terrapins

*MTE: Orlando Invitational

Home Games (7) Neutral-Site Games (3) Road Games (1)
Home Games (7) Neutral-Site Games (3) Road Games (1)
45. Notre Dame^ 88. Temple* 40. Seton Hall
73. Rhode Island 51. Texas A&M or
151. Oakland 126. Harvard*
166. George Mason 33. Marquette/
254. Fairfield* 59. USC/
274. Holy Cross 68. Davidson/
338. Bryant 254. Fairfield*
^ - ACC Challenge

Maryland Chronological

Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (0-1)
Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (0-1)
Nov. 5 274. Holy Cross
Nov. 9 73. Rhode Island
Nov. 16 151. Oakland
Nov. 19 254. Fairfield Orlando Invitational
Nov. 22 166. George Mason
Nov. 28 88. Temple Orlando Invitational (Bay Lake, Fla.)
Nov. 29 51. Texas A&M or 126. Harvard Orlando Invitational (Bay Lake, Fla.)
Dec. 1 33. Marquette/59. USC 68. Davidson/254. Fairfield Orlando Invitational (Bay Lake, Fla.)
Dec. 4 45. Notre Dame Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Dec. 19 40. Seton Hall SHU 78-74 (H)
Dec. 29 338. Bryant

Like Michigan, the Terrapins play just one true road game, and it’s a doozy—the back end of a two-year home-and-home series with Seton Hall. While Maryland’s home schedule isn’t quite as weak as either Michigan’s or Iowa’s, a Big Ten/ACC Challenge showdown against Notre Dame and visit from Rhode Island are the only two real difficult matchups. As for the Terps’ exempt tournament, well, the Orlando Invitational won’t be mistaken for either Maui or Atlantis this year. A possible final matchup with Marquette would be the best Mark Turgeon could hope for out of a weekend at Walt Disney World.

92. Ohio State Buckeyes

*MTE: Ohio State Classic

Home Games (8) Neutral-Site Games (2) Road Games (1)
Home Games (8) Neutral-Site Games (2) Road Games (1)
6. Villanova# 8. Kentucky$ 4. North Carolina^
13. Cincinnati 26. West Virginia! ^ - ACC Challenge
155. Purdue Fort Wayne* $ - Las Vegas
157. Kent State*% ! - Cleveland
299. UMass Lowell
303. Southeast Missouri State
324. Stetson*
333. Morgan State*
# - Gavitt Tip-Off
% - St. John Arena, Columbus

Ohio State Chronological

Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (2-0)
Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (2-0)
Nov. 6 13. Cincinnati OSU 64-56 (@)
Nov. 10 299. UMass Lowell
Nov. 13 6. Villanova Gavitt Tip-Off Games
Nov. 18 324. Stetson Ohio State Classic
Nov. 22 155. Purdue Fort Wayne Ohio State Classic OSU 107-61 (H)
Nov. 25 157. Kent State Ohio State Classic (St. John Arena, Columbus)
Nov. 29 333. Morgan State Ohio State Classic (waiver)
Dec. 4 4. North Carolina Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Dec. 17 303. Southeast Missouri State
Dec. 21 8. Kentucky CBS Sports Classic (Las Vegas)
Dec. 29 26. West Virginia Cleveland Classic (Cleveland)

Yes, the top of the Buckeyes’ schedule is among the best in the country, thanks in no small part to a trio of top eight matchups with North Carolina, Villanova, and Kentucky. But Chris Holtmann’s club will also host no fewer than four teams ranked 299th or worse in the four-year ranking, with two of those games serving as part of Ohio State’s eponymous exempt event. Making matters worse for the Buckeyes, they had to add a waiver game against 333rd-ranked Morgan State, already participating in the Islands of the Bahamas Showcase, to complete their allotment of four games under the current MTE rules.

124. Indiana Hoosiers

*MTE: Indiana Challenge

Home Games (9) Neutral-Site Games (2)
Home Games (9) Neutral-Site Games (2)
16. Florida State^ 45. Notre Dame$
46. Arkansas 104. UConn!
98. South Dakota State* $ - Bankers Life Fieldhouse
127. Louisiana Tech* ! - New York
132. Princeton*
208. Troy*
215. North Alabama
244. Portland State
306. Western Illinois
^ - ACC Challenge

Indiana Chronological

Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (1-1)
Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (1-1)
Nov. 5 306. Western Illinois
Nov. 9 244. Portland State
Nov. 12 215. North Alabama
Nov. 16 208. Troy Indiana Challenge
Nov. 20 132. Princeton Indiana Challenge (waiver)
Nov. 25 127. Louisiana Tech Indiana Challenge
Nov. 30 98. South Dakota State Indiana Challenge
Dec. 3 16. Florida State Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Dec. 10 104. UConn Jimmy V Classic (New York)
Dec. 21 45. Notre Dame Crossroads Classic (Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis)
Dec. 29 46. Arkansas UA 73-72 (@) IU 63-60 (H) (NIT)

The Hoosiers join Minnesota and Ohio State dealing with some exempt event weirdness this season, as Indiana’s game against North Alabama isn’t part of the Indiana Challenge, even though it’s also the Lions’ MTE for the year. Since that game takes place just before the event’s designated November 16th–30th window, Indiana will play Princeton in a waiver game instead. (The Lions are playing one of the numerous other mid-majors tied to the event as part of their participation.) Archie Miller has built a schedule that builds to a crescendo with the opponents gradually becoming more difficult up until Florida State visits Bloomington for the ACC Challenge. Then things get marginally easier (based on the rankings anyway), as the Hoosiers play their lone non-league game outside of Indiana, as they’ll head to New York to take on UConn in the Jimmy V Classic. Finally, the Hoosiers return for a game with Notre Dame in Indianapolis and a third meeting with Arkansas in a little more than a calendar year.

150. Penn State Nittany Lions

*MTE: NIT Season Tip-Off

Home Games (8) Neutral-Site Games (2) Road Games (1)
Home Games (8) Neutral-Site Games (2) Road Games (1)
54. Alabama 63. Ole Miss* 84. Georgetown#
101. Wake Forest^ 39. Syracuse or # - Gavitt Tip-Off
115. Bucknell 53. Oklahoma State*
121. Yale
257. Wagner
261. Cornell
337. Central Connecticut State
350. Maryland-Eastern Shore
^ - ACC Challenge

Penn State Chronological

Date (Rank) Opponent Event 2018-19 Meeting (0-1)
Date (Rank) Opponent Event 2018-19 Meeting (0-1)
Nov. 5 350. Maryland-Eastern Shore
Nov. 9 257. Wagner
Nov. 14 84. Georgetown Gavitt Tip-Off Games
Nov. 19 115. Bucknell NIT Season Tip-Off
Nov. 23 121. Yale NIT Season Tip-Off
Nov. 27 63. Ole Miss NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Nov. 29 39. Syracuse or 53. Oklahoma State NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Dec. 4 101. Wake Forest Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Dec. 14 54. Alabama UA 73-64 (@)
Dec. 20 337. Central Connecticut State
Dec. 29 261. Cornell

Would you believe that Pat Chambers is entering his ninth season in charge in State College? It’s true, even if the Nittany Lions have often struggled to hit the .500 mark never mind reach the NCAAs during that time. Coming off a 14-18 2018-19 season, Penn State will need wins—and they should be able to pick up at least four of them during non-conference play. But there are plenty of potential landmines for the Nittany Lions. For starters, all four games in the NIT Season Tip-Off come against teams with legitimate postseason aspirations. Georgetown will be looking to make a statement as Patrick Ewing continues to build that program, while Nate Oats will want to do the same when his Alabama team visits the Bryce Jordan Center. Then there’s the Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup, a home game against Wake Forest, led by another coach feeling the heat in Danny Manning.

200. Northwestern Wildcats

*MTE: Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off

Home Games (6) Neutral-Site Games (2) Road Games (2)
Home Games (6) Neutral-Site Games (2) Road Games (2)
62. Providence# 172. Bradley* 110. Boston College^
170. Radford* 25. Kansas State or 120. DePaul
289. Hartford 111. Pittsburgh* ^ - ACC Challenge
297. Norfolk State*
329. SIU Edwardsville
(Transitional) Merrimack
# - Gavitt Tip-Off

Northwestern Chronological

Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (1-0)
Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (1-0)
Nov. 8 (Transitional) Merrimack
Nov. 13 62. Providence Gavitt Tip-Off Games
Nov. 19 170. Radford Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off
Nov. 22 297. Norfolk State Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off
Nov. 25 172. Bradley Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off (Fort Myers, Fla.)
Nov. 27 25. Kansas State or 111. Pittsburgh Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off (Fort Myers, Fla.)
Dec. 3 110. Boston College Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Dec. 15 329. SIU Edwardsville
Dec. 21 120. DePaul NU 75-68 (H)
Dec. 29 269. Hartford

The Wildcats have followed up 2017’s historic NCAA berth and win by winning just 28 of its last 64 games. So, Chris Collins is yet another coach feeling some pressure. At first glance, the Gavitt Tip-Off matchup with Providence and a potential Thanksgiving Eve showdown with Kansas State look like the most difficult games here by some distance. But given how Northwestern has struggled since breaking through, road trips to Boston College and DePaul will challenge the Cats, so will the Fort Myers Tip-Off semifinal against Arch Madness champ Bradley.

202. Nebraska Cornhuskers

*MTE: Cayman Islands Classic

Home Games (6) Neutral-Site Games (3) Road Games (2)
Home Games (6) Neutral-Site Games (3) Road Games (2)
98. South Dakota State 192. Washington State* 32. Creighton
238. North Dakota 96. Old Dominion or 97. Georgia Tech^
276. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 166. George Mason* ^ - ACC Challenge
311. Southern Utah 60. New Mexico State/
312. UC Riverside 93. Loyola Chicago/
330. Southern* 161. Colorado State/
214. South Florida*

Nebraska Chronological

Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (1-0)
Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (1-0)
Nov. 5 312. UC Riverside
Nov. 9 311. Southern Utah
Nov. 15 98. South Dakota State
Nov. 22 330. Southern* Cayman Islands Classic
Nov. 25 192. Washington State Cayman Islands Classic (George Town, Cayman Islands)
Nov. 26 96. Old Dominion or 166. George Mason Cayman Islands Classic (George Town, Cayman Islands)
Nov. 27 60. New Mexico State/ 93. Loyola Chicago/ 161. Colorado State/ 214. South Florida Cayman Islands Classic (George Town, Cayman Islands)
Dec. 4 97. Georgia Tech Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Dec. 7 32. Creighton NU 94-75 (H)
Dec. 21 238. North Dakota
Dec. 29 276. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

After a 19-17 campaign that ended in the NIT, not NCAAs, Tim Miles was relieved of his duties in Lincoln, with former Iowa State and Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg taking over. The Mayor should be able to get his term in office in Lincoln off to a good start against this slate, which features just one game against a top 50 opponent and just two others guaranteed against teams ranked in the second 50 nationally. However, if the Huskers want to make the postseason, they’ll need to pick up a couple more such wins in the Cayman Islands Classic.

233. Illinois Fighting Illini

*MTE: O’ahu Classic

Home Games (8) Neutral-Site Games (1) Road Games (2)
Home Games (8) Neutral-Site Games (1) Road Games (2)
44. Miami (Fla.)^ 82. Missouri$ 36. Arizona
96. Old Dominion $ - St. Louis, Mo. 112. Grand Canyon
193. Hawai'i*
250. Hampton*
292. Nicholls State
305. The Citadel*
331. North Carolina A&T
(Non-D1) Lindenwood*
^ - ACC Challenge

Illinois Chronological

Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (0-1)
Date (Rank) Opponent Event/Venue 2018-19 Meeting (0-1)
Nov. 5 292. Nicholls State
Nov. 8 112. Grand Canyon
Nov. 11 36. Arizona
Nov. 18 193. Hawai'i O'ahu Classic
Nov. 20 305. The Citadel O'ahu Classic
Nov. 23 250. Hampton O'ahu Classic
Nov. 26 (Non-D1) Lindenwood O'ahu Classic
Dec. 2 44. Miami (Fla.) Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Dec. 14 96. Old Dominion
Dec. 21 82. Missouri Braggin' Rights (St. Louis, Mo.) MU 79-63 (N)
Dec. 29 331. North Carolina A&T

Even though the Fighting Illini went 12-21 in Brad Underwood’s first season, hopes are high in Champaign-Urbana. However, this non-conference schedule doesn’t resemble one of an at-large threat. Sure, games against Arizona, Miami, and Missouri could be worth something ... if those teams improve upon poor 2018-19 campaigns, while Old Dominion and Grand Canyon are quality mid-majors. But Illinois is playing in a weak exempt event, one that features a non-D1 game because of the difficulty the Illini had in filling the field, along with a pair of bottom 50 teams outside of it.

331. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

*MTE: Garden State Hardwood Showcase

Home Games (9) Neutral-Site Games (1) Road Games (1)
Home Games (9) Neutral-Site Games (1) Road Games (1)
40. Seton Hall 90. St. Bonaventure! 111. Pittsburgh^
199. Stephen F. Austin* ! - Toronto, Ont. ^ - ACC Challenge
206. UMass
230. NJIT
267. Drexel*
285. Niagara*
315. Lafayette
338. Bryant*
(Non-D1) Caldwell

Rutgers Chronological

Date (Rank) Opponent Event 2018-19 Meeting (1-1)
Date (Rank) Opponent Event 2018-19 Meeting (1-1)
Nov. 7 338. Bryant* Garden State Hardwood Showcase
Nov. 10 285. Niagara Garden State Hardwood Showcase
Nov. 13 267. Drexel Garden State Hardwood Showcase RU 95-66 (H)
Nov. 16 90. St. Bonaventure James Naismith Classic (Toronto, Ont.)
Nov. 20 199. Stephen F. Austin Garden State Hardwood Showcase
Nov. 26 230. NJIT
Nov. 29 206. UMass
Dec. 3 111. Pittsburgh Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Dec. 14 40. Seton Hall SHU 72-66 (@)
Dec. 22 315. Lafayette
Dec. 30 (Non-D1) Caldwell

Steve Pikiell’s Scarlet Knights are also expecting better things after 2018-19’s 14-17 campaign that had some moments of promise. Rutgers should get off to a great start thanks to this weak, home-heavy schedule. Three dates stand out among the crowd of triple-digits on the opponents’ list: the visit from Seton Hall, the game in Toronto against St. Bonaventure, and the trip to Pittsburgh for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Rutgers may need to sweep all three to have a shot being ranked and considered an at-large threat heading into the bulk of Big Ten play.

Be sure to follow @ChrisDobbertean on Twitter and to like Blogging the Bracket on Facebook.