Mark Montgomery’s first slate as the Huskies’ head coach features 16 home games at the NIU Convocation Center, including the regular season home opener on Nov. 14 against UW-Milwaukee.
“It’s a good, challenging schedule,” Montgomery said. “Anytime you get a chance to play teams from various conferences like the Big Ten, the Big East, the Horizon and the Missouri Valley it provides unbelievable exposure for your kids and we are looking forward to it.”
After hosting Carthage College in an exhibition contest Friday, Nov. 4, NIU will open the regular season Friday, Nov. 11, at Purdue. The Boilermakers, who are coming off a 26-8 season and a trip to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, will be rededicating Mackey Arena after a three-year renovation.
Following the home opener against Horizon League regular season champion and NIT participant UW-Milwaukee, the Huskies will play their second Big Ten foe in six days when they travel to Iowa on Thursday, Nov. 17.
Eastern Illinois will be the first of five in-state opponents on the NIU schedule. The Panthers come to DeKalb on Sunday, Nov. 20.
“I think it is exciting to play five in-state schools,” said Montgomery. “Anytime you play your local rivals it is a positive thing and it also gives the fans of both schools the opportunity to see the games in person.”
The Huskies will close November with a trip to Boise State (Nov. 26) and Utah Valley (Nov. 28) before hosting four of their five December games at the NIU Convocation Center, beginning on Saturday, Dec. 3 against Nebraska-Omaha.
A trip to UIC (Dec. 10) precedes five-straight home games, beginning with a visit to DeKalb by DePaul on Wednesday, Dec. 14. The Huskies close the 2011 calendar year by hosting Valparaiso (Dec. 20) and open 2012 at home against Roosevelt University (Jan. 2) and Eastern Michigan (Jan. 7) in the Mid-American Conference opener.
“I’m looking forward to our December and early January schedule,” Montgomery said. “Anytime you have five-straight home games, it is an outstanding opportunity. We are going to use that time to get better in practice and it will be great for our fans to get out to the Convocation Center to see us play.”
In addition to the home game with Eastern Michigan, the Huskies will host Central Michigan (Jan. 14) and Ball State (Jan. 21) in the first trip through the MAC West Division while traveling to Western Michigan (Jan. 11) and Toledo (Jan. 18).
Northern Illinois will open cross-over play against the MAC East with a trip to Kent State (Jan. 25), followed by back-to-back home games against Buffalo (Jan. 28) and Ohio (Feb. 1). The second half of the MAC East swing sees the Huskies travel to Bowling Green (Feb. 4) and Akron (Feb. 11) while hosting Miami (Feb. 8).
Western Michigan visits DeKalb on Wednesday, Feb. 15, before the Huskies finish the regular season with four of its last five games on the road, beginning with its annual ESPNU BracketBuster game on Saturday, Feb. 18. NIU travels to Eastern Michigan (Feb. 22) and Central Michigan (Feb. 26) before hosting Toledo in its home finale on Wednesday, Feb. 29. The Huskies will conclude the regular season at Ball State for the second consecutive season. The game is part of an ESPN wild card television weekend and will be played either Friday, March 2 or Saturday, March 3.
“It’s a balanced conference schedule,” said Montgomery. “It’s nice to alternate home and away games early on. I’m looking forward to going back to some of the MAC gyms that I remember from my time at Central Michigan. It’s definitely going to be very competitive and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
Ticket information for the 2011-12 season, as well as game times, will be released at a later date.
For more information on NIU men’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.