Highlighted by 16 home games and non-conference matchups with the Big Ten, ACC and Big East, the NIU men’s basketball team released its 2014-15 schedule Wednesday.
The 29-game slate includes 10 games against teams that played in the postseason last year.
“It’s a challenging schedule,” said NIU head coach Mark Montgomery. “We are definitely going to challenge ourselves in the non-conference to prepare for conference play. We have six non-conference home games and five on the road, with big games at Iowa, at DePaul and at Notre Dame. Those are all places that our fans can drive to and see us play.
“In conference play it’s never easy. We play three of our first four on the road, but we have six home Saturday games (in conference), so those will be a great chance for our fans to come out and see us play. We see Bowling Green and Miami twice from the MAC East and on the west side it will be very competitive, led by Western Michigan and Toledo, who played in the MAC Tournament Final last year.”
Following a home exhibition contest against Roosevelt on Saturday, Nov. 8, the Huskies will open the regular season with back-to-back home games against Aurora on Saturday, Nov. 15 and Idaho on Thursday, Nov. 20.
NIU will play five of its next seven on the road, beginning with a trip to Iowa on Wednesday, Nov. 26. The Hawkeyes won 20 games a season ago and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
A home date with Maine (Nov. 30) follows the trip to Iowa City before the Huskies play back-to-back in-state foes on the road, travelling to DePaul (Dec. 2) and Eastern Illinois (Dec. 13). NIU hosts Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday, Dec. 16, before concluding the road portion of its non-conference slate with trips to Dartmouth (Dec. 19) and Notre Dame (Dec. 22).
The trip to Hanover, N.H., is the return leg of a series started last season when the Huskies defeated the Big Green, 64-57, while the date with the Fighting Irish marks just the fifth all-time meeting against Notre Dame, the first since Dec. 8, 2007.
After a week break around Christmas, the Huskies will host Hampton (Dec. 29) and UC Riverside (Jan. 2) to round out the non-conference schedule. Last season, NIU earned a 71-64 victory over the Highlanders in Riverside.
The Huskies begin league play with three of their first four on the road, beginning at Ohio on Wednesday, Jan. 7. NIU comes home from Athens to host Kent State on Saturday, Jan. 10, before returning to the road at Buffalo (Jan. 14) and Eastern Michigan (Jan. 17).
NIU’s next three games will be against MAC East foes as the Huskies welcome Akron (Jan. 21) and Miami (Jan. 24) to DeKalb before traveling to Bowling Green (Jan. 27).
The Huskies close the month of January by hosting Toledo on Jan. 31 and open February with their final two games against the MAC East, traveling to Oxford to meet Miami on Feb. 4 while hosting Bowling Green on Feb. 7. The Huskies swept a pair of games against the Falcons last season, including a 54-51 overtime victory in the first round of the MAC Tournament.
NIU closes conference play with eight consecutive games against MAC West Division foes, beginning with a home game against Ball State on Tuesday, Feb. 10. The Huskies make a two-game swing through Michigan, traveling to Western Michigan (Feb. 14) and Central Michigan (Feb. 18) before returning home to host Eastern Michigan (Feb. 21). NIU will then travel to Toledo (Feb. 24) prior to its final two home games against Central Michigan (Feb. 28) and Western Michigan (March 3).
For the fifth consecutive year, NIU will close the regular season against Ball State as the Huskies visit Muncie, Ind., on Friday, March 6.
Once again this season, the MAC Tournament will begin with first round campus site games on Monday, March 9, before moving to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio for the final four rounds, March 11-14.
For more information on NIU men’s basketball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.