A 4-10 non-conference record didn’t stop NIU head coach http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-baskbl/mtt/patton_ricardo00.html" target="_blank">Ricardo Patton from setting up another difficult schedule.
The http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-baskbl/niu-m-baskbl-body.html" target="_blank">Huskies recently announced their 2010-2011 schedule, which includes tough tests against Northwestern, the regular season opener, and Illinois-Chicago at home and Bradley, DePaul, Temple, Southern Illinois, Missouri and Iowa State on the road.
Patton said he believes he has compiled a list of adversaries that the fans want to see. He added that no other MAC team has this schedule, which will in turn help his players prepare themselves for their conference schedule.
“If you take a look at our league, there’s no one playing a tougher non-conference schedule than we are,” Patton said. “It certainly has some local flavor when you talk about opening up the season with Northwestern and then playing DePaul.”
When the Wildcats roll into the Convocation Center on Nov. 12, it will be the first time since Dec. 2005, when NIU hosted Kansas State, that the Huskies host a major conference opponent and the first since 1999, against Wisconsin, in which they host a Big Ten team.
“I like the schedule,” said senior guard Xavier Silas. “It’s a tough schedule. It will be the toughest one that I’ve played because at Colorado we didn’t have that tough of a schedule and last year I missed the tough schedule because of my hand.”
Of NIU’s 23 challengers, six of them played in the postseason last year. Two big dates comprise of Missouri, who participated in the big dance last season and has never met the Huskies, and Iowa State, who hasn’t faced NIU since 1971.
“Playing at Missouri and Iowa State, a couple of Big 12 teams, will be a great challenge for our guys,” Patton said. “Having Bradley and Temple on the schedule is also good for us, because those are games that will help us quickly identify what our strengths and our weaknesses are.”
The Huskies’ other non-conference matches pit them against Cardinal Stritch, Maryland Eastern Shore, Boise State and Utah Valley.
NIU will open up MAC play at home against Ball State on Jan. 8.