Illinois Basketball Schedule: 2008-09
Another challenging collection of non-conference games followed by the rigorous Big Ten slate highlight the 2008-09 Illinois men's basketball schedule. A total of 19 home games will be played at the Assembly Hall (17 regular season and two exhibition), and the Illini will play at least 12 games during the regular season against teams that participated in last year's NCAA Tournament.
Season ticket renewals have been mailed and sent via e-mail. Season ticket holders can renew online, or by mail, phone (1-866-ILLINI1 or 217-333-3470) or fax (217-244-4170). The deadline for renewals is Friday, Sept. 5.
"We feel good about our schedule and are looking forward to the upcoming season," head coach Bruce Weber said. "We have a mixture of some very challenging games against teams that made it to the NCAA Tournament and should be strong again, to go along with some early home games that can give us the opportunity to identify our roles and solidify our team chemistry. We have built a schedule that should help us be seasoned by the time Big Ten play begins. Our strength of schedule has been ranked in the Top 25 nationally the past few seasons, and that could be the case once again this year."
The Fighting Illini begin the regular season with a pair of weekend home games surrounding the Illinois home football game vs. Ohio State. Illinois hosts Eastern Washington in the season opener on Friday, Nov. 14, and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Sunday, Nov. 16.
Illinois will make its first road trip on Nov. 20, playing at Vanderbilt. A home game vs. Jackson State on Nov. 23 precedes a Thanksgiving weekend trip to Texas for the South Padre Island Invitational. The Illini will face Kent State on Nov. 28 and either Texas A&M or Tulsa on Nov. 29.
The Illini have received a home game in the 10th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, hosting Clemson on Dec. 2. Another BCS conference opponent follows as Illinois takes on Georgia in the annual Lexus December to Remember Classic Dec. 6 at the United Center in Chicago.
Illinois plays three consecutive games at the Assembly Hall vs. Hawaii (Dec. 8), Chicago State (Dec. 10) and Detroit (Dec. 20) before traveling to St. Louis on Dec. 23 for the 28th edition of the Busch Braggin' Rights vs. Missouri at the Scottrade Center. The Illini close out non-conference play by hosting Eastern Michigan on Dec. 28.
Illinois will play its first conference game prior to the New Year for the first time in 42 seasons, as the Illini open Big Ten play at Purdue on Dec. 30, followed by another road game at Michigan on Jan. 4.
The Illini return to Champaign to enjoy four out of the next five games at home, hosting Indiana (Jan. 10) and Michigan (Jan. 14) in back-to-back games, traveling to Michigan State on Jan. 17, and then returning to The Hall for consecutive games against Ohio State (Jan. 20) and Wisconsin (Jan. 24).
Illinois closes out the month of January at Minnesota on the 29th and opens February by hosting Iowa on the 1st.
The Illini then face a difficult stretch, with three of their next four games on the road. That string begins with a trip to Wisconsin on Feb. 5. After returning to the Assembly Hall to take on Purdue on Feb. 8, the Illini hit the road for back-to-back games at Northwestern (Feb. 12) and Indiana (Feb. 15).
Following that road swing, three of the next four games are at home. Illinois welcomes Penn State to campus on Feb. 18, plays at Ohio State on Feb. 21 or 22, and returns to Champaign to host Minnesota on Feb. 26 and Michigan State on either Feb. 28 or March 1 for Senior Day at the Assembly Hall.
Illinois wraps up the regular season with a road trip to Penn State on March 3, 4 or 5. The Big Ten Tournament will be held March 12-15 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
All 18 of Illinois' Big Ten games will be televised again this season. The Illini will make at least six appearances on ESPN/ESPN2, two on CBS and seven on the Big Ten Network during conference play. TV information for Illinois' other three Big Ten games will be determined at a later date.