CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois and DePaul are separated by less than 150 miles but the two men’s basketball teams haven’t played one another in 60 years. That will change Friday night when the Blue Demons visit State Farm Center at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games. The yearly series pits teams from the Big Ten Conference against the Big East Conference.
First-year Illinois coach Brad Underwood says he’s not afraid to play other in-state schools, such as DePaul or Eastern Illinois. The Panthers beat the Illini (2-0) in a charity exhibition game earlier this season.
“I don’t run from anybody,” Underwood said. “They’re (DePaul) a quality program and they’re within our state so it’s easy for our fans to get there, so anything’s possible.”
“I think it’s great, especially for the fans in the state of Illinois,” Illinois junior forward Michael Finke said about playing other teams from the state. “It’ll be really good for us, a good challenge. And I think the fans really appreciate that. I know if I was a fan, I would want to see in-state games like that, they’re (DePaul) good.”