CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The Illinois basketball non-conference schedule is out, featuring seven home games, to go along with two exhibition matchups. Add in the 10 Big Ten home games, and the Illini will host a total of 19 games in the 2021-22 season.
The doors are set to open to the general public at State Farm Center for the first time since March 2020 on Saturday, Oct. 23 when the Illini host a yet to be determined exhibition game. Six days later Illinois will once again play another tune-up game, welcoming in Indiana (PA.), before the season opener on Nov. 9 against Jackson State.
The first marquee game is Nov. 15 when Illinois makes the short trip north to Milwaukee to face Marquette in the Gavitt Tipoff Games. That’s followed by the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City a week later. The Illini will face Cincinnati in the opener on Nov. 22, followed by either Arkansas or Kansas State the following day.
Notre Dame visits Champaign in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 29, before a 12-day break between games, with Arizona finally making a trip to Champaign Dec. 11 for a return game that was postponed last season. The final high major game of the non-conference schedule is the annual Braggin’ Rights game on Wednesday, Dec. 22. The rivalry game is back in St. Louis after COVID-19 moved the contest to Columbia last season.
The Big Ten opponent schedule is out but the dates and times of those games are yet to be determined. Illinois will welcome Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers and Wisconsin to Champaign.
The Illini are coming off a historic 24-7 season, going 16-4 in the Big Ten, winning the conference tournament championship for the first time since 2005. Illinois was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and ended the year No. 2 in the AP Top 25 poll, the second highest final mark in program history.