WCIA — It has been eight months since Illinois men’s basketball last took the court in a game that counted, falling in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament to Arkansas back in March.

A lot has happened between then and Monday, when the 2023-24 season officially gets underway for the Illini. Illinois’ exhibition win over No. 1 Kansas was a good start for this year’s team, but the goal remains the same for Brad Underwood’s squad: advance further than the Second Round in March and make it to the second weekend for the first since 2005.

“We’re excited to get started, we’re excited for our fans,” Underwood said. “This is game one of what we hope could be a great, great five months. We’re looking forward to getting it kicked off.”

“I feel like we have a lot of experienced guys, everybody knows what it takes to win,” senior transfer Justin Harmon said. “We got a lot of dudes that won a lot of games, a lot of big games. Everybody just knows what the main goal is in the end.”

Illinois opens the season Monday against Eastern Illinois. Tip-off is 7 p.m. on B1G+.