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Big Ten Announces Basketball Conference Opponents For 2016-17

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The Big Ten announced the conference opponents each team will face for the upcoming basketball season, and Penn State's slate is quite favorable.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

A big piece of Penn State's basketball puzzle is in place today after the Big Ten announced the conference slate for each team.

The Nittany Lions now know which teams they'll face at home, away, and twice for this season. They will face Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska away from home; they host Michigan State, Northwestern, Maryland, and Ohio State; and lastly, they'll face Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Rutgers, and Minnesota at home and on the road.

This slate is a departure from the murderer's row Penn State has faced in recent years, and pending the order of the games, it even looks to be quite favorable for the Lions. Facing three of the bottom four teams in last season's standings twice makes the likelihood that the Lions match last season's seven Big Ten wins increase substantially.

The Lions also catch another big break in the double plays as they only face one of the projected top three teams next season twice, and that team, Indiana, is one that Pat Chambers has been able to compete with regardless of talent level. Purdue will most likely be in the top half of the Big Ten as well. Losing AJ Hammons, Kendall Stephens, and others, will see them take a step back, but the return of Caleb Swannigan and Isaac Haas, plus the addition of Spike Albrecht, should ensure they don't fall off too much.

As for our other double plays, Minnesota and Rutgers will stand to be much improved from last season by default, due in no small part to the fact that they can't possibly get much worse. However, Penn State should still be ahead of them on paper. Illinois is the only team that one can't clearly say is better or worse right now. The Illini have their own issues to deal with, and has had as many off-the-field incidents recently has they've had on-the-field issues. Their latest loss is Kendrick Nunn.

The one-plays were split quite evenly in terms of who we face at home and away. Michigan State and Wisconsin are the other two who, along with Indiana, are projected to finish in the top three. It tapers off from there, with Maryland and Ohio State also at home, while Michigan and Iowa are on the road. Northwestern and Nebraska, projected to be right around our own place in the pecking order, are also split into home and away games.

On the surface, it looks like the Big Ten went out of their way to make Penn State's schedule as balanced as it possibly could, as if to make up for years of incredibly difficult slates. As of today, here's what the whole schedule looks like:

Penn State Basketball 2016-17 Schedule
Date Opponent
11/11 Marist
11/15 Grand Canyon
11/19 Duke (Neutral Site)
11/20 Cincinnati/Rhode Island (Neutral Site)
TBD Georgia Tech (B1G/ACC Challenge)
12/10 Pitt (Neutral Site)
TBD @ George Washington
TBD George Mason
TBD @ Indiana
TBD Purdue
TBD @ Rutgers
TBD Illinois
TBD @ Minnesota
TBD Indiana
TBD @ Purdue
TBD Rutgers
TBD @ Illinois
TBD Minnesota
TBD @ Michigan
TBD Michigan State
TBD @ Wisconsin
TBD Ohio State
TBD @ Iowa
TBD Maryland
TBD @ Nebraska
TBD Northwestern