Last season, Northwestern men’s basketball missed the NIT despite a 20 win season, thanks in large part to a non-conference strength of schedule which ranked 323rd out of 351 teams.
The Wildcats are already taking steps to strengthen next year’s non-conference slate to make sure a weak non-con doesn’t leave NU out of post-season play again.
Northwestern announced today that it will participate in the 2016 Legends Classic in Brooklyn, New York. The tournament takes place on November 21 and 22 at Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets.
Notre Dame, Texas, and Colorado will join the ‘Cats in Booklyn. All three teams reached the 2016 NCAA tournament as top-8 seeds. Colorado was an 8-seed and lost in the first round to UConn, while Texas was a 6-seed and lost in the first round to Northern Iowa. Notre Dame was also a 6-seed, but the Irish advanced to the Elite Eight, defeating Michigan, Stephen F. Austin, and Wisconsin before falling to North Carolina.
Last season’s Wildcats faced three top-100 teams in non-conference play (North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Columbia), and participation in the Legends Classic ensure the team at least two such games in 2016.
UPDATE: As part of the Legends Classic, the Wildcats will also host games against two teams from the following group of four: Bryant University, Eastern Washington University, University of Louisiana-Monroe, and Seattle University.
Louisiana-Monroe was the best of the bunch in 2015-2016, finishing 15-5 in the Sun Belt and losing close non-conference games to Minnesota and Penn State.
Bryant finished 5-13 in the Northeast Conference and lost to Michigan by 36 points in non-conference play, while Seattle finished 7-7 in the Western Athletic Conference and Eastern Washington went 10-8 in the Big Sky. Neither Seattle nor Eastern Washington played any Big Ten teams in non-conference play last season.