CHARLESTON (WCIA) — For the second season in a row Eastern Illinois men’s basketball will make the trip up Interstate 57 to open its season at Illinois.

Going into Year Three with head coach Marty Simmons in charge, the Panthers have gone 14-48 in his first two seasons at the helm. EIU did improve its record by four games from Year One to Year Two. With that same kind of improvement, the Panthers will look to qualify for the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament for the first time since 2020.

“We got a lot of new guys on the team and I think we have a lot of different guys that can bring a lot of different things, a lot of athleticism, a lot of speed,” forward Jermaine Hamlin said. “I think it’s a really good team that we have this year.”

“I kind of like the blend of having some veteran guys and got new energy about us,” Simmons said. “I thought last year we had more of a younger team, this year we’re a little bit older, but I think a little more competitive.”

EIU tips off against the Illini at 7 p.m. on Monday. The game will be broadcast on B1G+.