LIVE BLOG: Illinois at Providence

Illini Inquirer publisher Jeremy Werner is live blogging from the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence as the Illini take on the Friars in the Gavitt Tipoff Games

Read the Rapid Recap after the game concludes

Providence 57, Illinois 57; 3:26 left  2H

Illinois is realy moving the ball now, especially between Hill, Finke and Coleman-Lands. JCL (17 points) with two huge threes, but Illinois missed opportunities to widen the lead. It's a possession game now.

Providence 52, Illinois 51; 7:44 left  2H

Illinois could only hold down Kris Dunn for so long. He hit a three and just finished a highlight alley-oop dunk. Still, Illinois' bench has been phenomenal tonight, as has Malcolm. Hill. This should be an exciting finish.

Providence 43, Illinois 43; 11:05 left 2H

Have a night Michael Finke. The redshirt freshman finally looks comfortable. He has 12 points, and all 8 of the Illini's second-half points. This game has really slowed down with both teams going zone. This could become a free-throwing shooting contest. The Friars are already in the bonus. Illinois is one Friars foul away from being in the bonus.

Providence 39, Illinois 35; 15:36 left 2H

Illinois started the second half cold but  Michael Finke has kept them afloat. He hit a three and just scored a layup with a free throw coming. Kris Dunn picked up his third foul and went to the bench. Leron Black picked up his third foul quickly. He's played three minutes. Mike Thorne (0-3 FG) has been a nonfactor.

HALF: Providence 32, Illinois 30

HALF STATS

FG: ILL 13-28 (46%),  PC 13-39 (33%)

3FG: ILL 4-11, PC 4-11

FT: ILL 0-0, PC 2-4

Rebounds: ILL 19 (4 off), PC 21 (10 off)

Assists: ILL 8, PC 7

Turnovers: ILL 9, PC 3

Blocks: ILL 3, PC 1

2nd chance points: ILL 5, PC 11

Individual stats

Malcolm Hill, ILL: 9 points (4-8 FG), 9 rebounds, 2 blocks

Jalen Coleman-Lands, ILL: 8 points (3-5 FG)

Mike Thorne Jr., ILL: 0 points, 2 fouls, 8 minutes

Leron Black, ILL: 0 points, 2 fouls, 2 minutes

Kris Dunn, PC: 1 point (0-3 FG), 2 fouls

Ben Bentil, PC: 11 points, 5 rebounds

Kyron Cartwright, PC: 8 points

Providence 26, Illinois 25; 3:55 left 1H

Illinois has a huge opportunity right now. Kris Dunn has 1 point (0-3 FG) and is on the bench with two fouls. But the Illini are shooting themselves in the foot with eight turnovers and a poor job on the offensive glass (Providence 9 offensive rebounds). Jalen Coleman-Lands is feeling it a bit though. He's 3-for-4 with two threes. The freshman can really shoot.

Providence 23, Illinois 19; 7:47 left 1H

Both teams' defensive game plans are working. Kris Dunn has 1 point for Providence. Mike Thorne Jr. is scoreless. John Groce might need to ride Jalen Coleman-Lands longer. That stroke looks good tonight, but defense is the focus. Malcolm Hill looks good (7 points, 3-for-4 FG) early on.

Providence 14, Illinois 12; 11:41 left 1H

Malcolm Hill and Kyron Cartwright just got into a scrum. There's some intensity to this game. Maverick Morgan got stuffed at the rim following a great pass from Michael Finke but he bounced back with four quick points. Good to see improvement in the early going. Toughness is the biggest factor for him. We know he has skill. 

Illinois has five turnovers and five made baskets (on 9 shot attempts).

Providence 7, Illinois 6; 15:27 left 1H

Both teams did their homework. The Illini are hedging  Kris Dunn early and double-teaming him, forcing two Dunn turnovers. The Friars are doubling Mike Thorne Jr. in the post. The Friars are cleaning up on the offensive glass (6 already) and have four second-chance points. The Illini are getting a lot of open outside shots. Austin and Hill both hit a three. But both Black and THorne have offensive fouls, adding to Illinois' early turnover trouble (three). Providence has 11 shot attempts. Illinois has four.

Tipoff

As Derek Piper predicted in his preview, Leron Black is starting for Illinois, along with Khalid Lewis, Malcolm Hill, Alex Austin and Mike Thorne Jr. Freshman Aaron Jordan moves to the bench to join D.J. Williams and Jalen Coleman-Lands.

Black looked really good in pregame. He's much more explosive off that knee. He played 15 minutes against North dakota State and had five points and five rebounds. He's been smiling most of pregame and is pumped up for this one.

30 minutes to tipoff

This game is part of inaugural Gavitt Tipoff Games, the first of eight years of nonconference matchups between the Big Ten and Big East. Each Big Ten team will play four times in the series, and each Big East team will participate six times in eight seasons.

The series is named in honor of Dae Gavitt, a former Providence coach and commissioner of the Big East. He almost single handedly kept the Big East together for as long as it stayed together. If you haven't, watch the ESPN 30 for 30 film "Requiem for the Big East." Providence will honor him before the game. It'd be just another honor. The court here is named after him and he has a banner hanging here at Dunkin' Donuts Center.

Former St. John's and UCLA coach Steve Lavin is here. Lavin's replacement at St. John's, NBA Hall of Famer Chris Mullin, landed Illinois recruiting target and Morgan Park grad Marcus LoVett. LoVett was in the news today. It sounds like he and his family may pursue legal counsel after the NCAA ruled him ineligible for this season.

Speaking of former Illinois recruiting targets, Jalen Brunson is averaging 10.5 points, 5.0 assists and 1.0 turnover in his first two games at Villanova. Glynn Watson Jr. had 12 points against Villanova last night, and Ed Morrow had six points and five rebounds.

Illinois will be wearing blue tonight.

50 minutes to tipoff

Bill Raftery, best college basketball analyst? Top-3? Top-5? I've always found him enjoyable yet not over-the-top, while providing great analysis. He just loves the game.

Illinois is the only team that starts the season against three teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season. The tougher stat: Illinois will stay in hotels for 13 to 14 days this month. The travel schedule is brutal thanks to the State Farm Center renovation. The team play stwo more games in Springfield this weekend (Chattanooga and Chicago State) before heading to Florida for the Emerald Coast Classic to play UAB and either Iowa State or Virginia Tech. The Illini finally play on their true home court on Dec. 2 against Notre Dame.

Providence has a student band -- with a guy shredding on the electric guitar -- and a D.J. courtside. I might ask him to play some Timberlake.

90 minutes to tipoff

Illini point guard Jaylon Tate is in street clothes and will not play tonight. He suffered an open dislocation of his right pinky finger in the season opener against North Florida. He has a splint on the injured finger. John Groce has not put a timetable on his return.

Dunn is a great player but Providence is far from a proven team. The Friars lost most of its production from last season, including leading scorer LaDontae Henton (who averaged close to 20 ppg). The Friars had just four players score more than two points against Harvard: Dunn had 32 points.6-foot-8 sophomore forward Rodney Bullock had 20 points and six rebounds, 6-foot-8 freshman Ryan Fazekas had 10 points and three rebounds and 6-foot-9 sophomore Ben Bentil had eight points and 11 rebounds. Also, 6-foot-8, 285-pound freshman Quadree Smith gives the Friars some girth inside, but Mike Thorne Jr. should have a height and size advantage inside for most of the game.

2 hours to tipoff

MAC football is referred to as the Cradle of Coaches. Well, Providence could be the cradle of great basketball coaches. Just a few former Providence basketball greats who turned into coaching stars: all-time NBA wins leader Lenny Wilkens, former Houston Rockets coach John Egan, former Georgetown coaching great John Thompson, former Florida coach and current Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan, former Kings and Nuggets coach Mike Malone, current Miami coach Jim Larranaga and current Minnesota coach Rich Pitino.

NBA players from Providence include: Jimmy Walker, Marvin Barnes, Joe Hassett, Otis Thorpe, Dickey Simpkins, Eric  Murdock, Austin Croshere, God Shammgod, Eric  Williams, Ryan Gomes, Marshon Brooks.

Former players with banners here at Dunkin' Dunuts Center are: Walker, Wilkens, Hassett, Barnes, Ernie DiGregorioKevin Stacom, Egan, Ray Flynn, Vinnie Ernst, Thompson and Jim Hadnot. There are two Final Four Banners (1973 and 1987) and two Big East Champions banners (1994 and 2014).

2 hours, 15 minutes to tipoff

More than two dozen NBA scouts are schedule to be in attendance tonight, including Philadelphia 76ers general manager and president of basketball operations Sam Hinkie. While Illinois' Malcolm Hill and Mike Thorne Jr. may get some looks, I don't think they're here for them. Actually, I know. They're here to see Providence junior point guard Kris Dunn, a preseason All-American and the preseason Big East Player of the Year. Dunn, a possible lottery pick, had 32 points, 8 steals, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in Providence's season-opening win over Harvard. Yeah, he's really good.

2 hours, 30 minutes to tipoff

Celebrate, Illini fans! Illinois basketball is finally on television!

The first two Illini games were stream only on BTN Digital Network (a paid subscription -- which is lame; at least stream it on BTN2Go.com, BTN) and ESPN3. Tonight's broadcast is on Fox Sports 1 with a top-notch announcing team: Tim Brandon on play by play and Bill Raftery (analyst).

Illinois has five more games on stream: Chicago State (Nov. 23, ESPN3), Western Carolina (Dec. 5, ESPN3), Yale (Dec. 9, ESPN3), UIC (Dec. 12, ESPN3) and South Dakota (Dec. 19, ESPN3).

Plenty of rumors about the Illini athletic director search. I've been posting the latest buzz the last week on the premium board.

3 hours until tipoff

Greetings from Providence! Jeremy Werner, Illini Inquirer publisher, here at the Dunkin' Donuts Center where the Illini will play Providence in the inagural Gavitt Tipoff Games.

Interesting tidbit: there's a Starbucks right across the street from the Dunkin' Donuts Center. #Murica #Capitalism

Welp, I can cross Rhode Island off my states list. Not sure why else I would visit here. I keep thinking of "Wayne's World" today. "Imagine being magically whisked away to...Rhode Island. Hi, I'm in Rhode Island." Now, I know Wayne Campbell says "Delaware" and not Rhode Island, but...they're kinda the same thing, right? No? Well, anyway...

A few fun facts about this state. It was the first of the 13 colonies to declare independence from Britain, was the last of the states to ratify the constitution, is the smallest state in area and the second most densely populated (behind New Jersey). Gotta love fun facts!

Oh, and they love seafood and hockey here. I took a walk around the city this afternoon and they already have an ice rink set up in one of the big parks. It fits the weather. Pretty chilly here today. One thing I love about these Eastern seaboard cities is the history. A lot of colonial brick buildings and brick streets. Boston is the best walking city out here in my opinion. Take a walk down The Freedom Trail and get the Sam Adams Brick Red Ale (which is only served on The Freedom Trail). You won't regret it.

My cabbie from the airport said the Dunkin' Donuts Center is the best place for entertainment in the city. Not sure if that's a sign of the city's love for Providence basketball (and preseason All-American Kris Dunn) or an indictment of the city's nightlife. Though, it is just a Wednesday. Marcus Jackson of The News-Gazette and I may have to investigate.

Speaking of Marcus, big congrats to him on moving to the news side of The News-Gazette. He's done a great job on the Illini basketball beat the past three-plus seasons. While covering college sports is awesome -- and we all appreciate it -- a normal schedule and less grief from the fan base might allow him to relax a little more.

Vegas lists Illinois as a 7.5-point underdog. KenPom.com projects a 79-73 Providence win and gives Illinois a 30 percent chance of winning. More on that later.


Illini Inquirer Top Stories

50 minutes to tipoff

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Bill Raftery, best college basketball analyst? Top-3? Top-5? I've always found him enjoyable yet not over-the-top, while providing great analysis. He just loves the game.

\n

Illinois is the only team that starts the season against three teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season. The tougher stat: Illinois will stay in hotels for 13 to 14 days this month. The travel schedule is brutal thanks to the State Farm Center renovation. The team play stwo more games in Springfield this weekend (Chattanooga and Chicago State) before heading to Florida for the Emerald Coast Classic to play UAB and either Iowa State or Virginia Tech. The Illini finally play on their true home court on Dec. 2 against Notre Dame.

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Providence has a student band -- with a guy shredding on the electric guitar -- and a D.J. courtside. I might ask him to play some Timberlake.

\n

90 minutes to tipoff

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Illini point guard Jaylon Tate is in street clothes and will not play tonight. He suffered an open dislocation of his right pinky finger in the season opener against North Florida. He has a splint on the injured finger. John Groce has not put a timetable on his return.

\n

Dunn is a great player but Providence is far from a proven team. The Friars lost most of its production from last season, including leading scorer LaDontae Henton (who averaged close to 20 ppg). The Friars had just four players score more than two points against Harvard: Dunn had 32 points.6-foot-8 sophomore forward Rodney Bullock had 20 points and six rebounds, 6-foot-8 freshman Ryan Fazekas had 10 points and three rebounds and 6-foot-9 sophomore Ben Bentil had eight points and 11 rebounds. Also, 6-foot-8, 285-pound freshman Quadree Smith gives the Friars some girth inside, but Mike Thorne Jr. should have a height and size advantage inside for most of the game.

\n

2 hours to tipoff

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MAC football is referred to as the Cradle of Coaches. Well, Providence could be the cradle of great basketball coaches. Just a few former Providence basketball greats who turned into coaching stars: all-time NBA wins leader Lenny Wilkens, former Houston Rockets coach John Egan, former Georgetown coaching great John Thompson, former Florida coach and current Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan, former Kings and Nuggets coach Mike Malone, current Miami coach Jim Larranaga and current Minnesota coach Rich Pitino.

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NBA players from Providence include: Jimmy Walker, Marvin Barnes, Joe Hassett, Otis Thorpe, Dickey Simpkins, Eric  Murdock, Austin Croshere, God Shammgod, Eric  Williams, Ryan Gomes, Marshon Brooks.

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Former players with banners here at Dunkin' Dunuts Center are: Walker, Wilkens, Hassett, Barnes, Ernie DiGregorioKevin Stacom, Egan, Ray Flynn, Vinnie Ernst, Thompson and Jim Hadnot. There are two Final Four Banners (1973 and 1987) and two Big East Champions banners (1994 and 2014).

\n

2 hours, 15 minutes to tipoff

\n

More than two dozen NBA scouts are schedule to be in attendance tonight, including Philadelphia 76ers general manager and president of basketball operations Sam Hinkie. While Illinois' Malcolm Hill and Mike Thorne Jr. may get some looks, I don't think they're here for them. Actually, I know. They're here to see Providence junior point guard Kris Dunn, a preseason All-American and the preseason Big East Player of the Year. Dunn, a possible lottery pick, had 32 points, 8 steals, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in Providence's season-opening win over Harvard. Yeah, he's really good.

\n

2 hours, 30 minutes to tipoff

\n

Celebrate, Illini fans! Illinois basketball is finally on television!

\n

The first two Illini games were stream only on BTN Digital Network (a paid subscription -- which is lame; at least stream it on BTN2Go.com, BTN) and ESPN3. Tonight's broadcast is on Fox Sports 1 with a top-notch announcing team: Tim Brandon on play by play and Bill Raftery (analyst).

\n

Illinois has five more games on stream: Chicago State (Nov. 23, ESPN3), Western Carolina (Dec. 5, ESPN3), Yale (Dec. 9, ESPN3), UIC (Dec. 12, ESPN3) and South Dakota (Dec. 19, ESPN3).

\n

Plenty of rumors about the Illini athletic director search. I've been posting the latest buzz the last week on the premium board.

\n

3 hours until tipoff

\n

Greetings from Providence! Jeremy Werner, Illini Inquirer publisher, here at the Dunkin' Donuts Center where the Illini will play Providence in the inagural Gavitt Tipoff Games.

\n

Interesting tidbit: there's a Starbucks right across the street from the Dunkin' Donuts Center. #Murica #Capitalism

\n

Welp, I can cross Rhode Island off my states list. Not sure why else I would visit here. I keep thinking of \"Wayne's World\" today. \"Imagine being magically whisked away to...Rhode Island. Hi, I'm in Rhode Island.\" Now, I know Wayne Campbell says \"Delaware\" and not Rhode Island, but...they're kinda the same thing, right? No? Well, anyway...

\n

A few fun facts about this state. It was the first of the 13 colonies to declare independence from Britain, was the last of the states to ratify the constitution, is the smallest state in area and the second most densely populated (behind New Jersey). Gotta love fun facts!

\n

Oh, and they love seafood and hockey here. I took a walk around the city this afternoon and they already have an ice rink set up in one of the big parks. It fits the weather. Pretty chilly here today. One thing I love about these Eastern seaboard cities is the history. A lot of colonial brick buildings and brick streets. Boston is the best walking city out here in my opinion. Take a walk down The Freedom Trail and get the Sam Adams Brick Red Ale (which is only served on The Freedom Trail). You won't regret it.

\n

My cabbie from the airport said the Dunkin' Donuts Center is the best place for entertainment in the city. Not sure if that's a sign of the city's love for Providence basketball (and preseason All-American Kris Dunn) or an indictment of the city's nightlife. Though, it is just a Wednesday. Marcus Jackson of The News-Gazette and I may have to investigate.

\n

Speaking of Marcus, big congrats to him on moving to the news side of The News-Gazette. He's done a great job on the Illini basketball beat the past three-plus seasons. While covering college sports is awesome -- and we all appreciate it -- a normal schedule and less grief from the fan base might allow him to relax a little more.

\n

Vegas lists Illinois as a 7.5-point underdog. KenPom.com projects a 79-73 Providence win and gives Illinois a 30 percent chance of winning. More on that later.

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Read the Rapid Recap after the game concludes

Providence 57, Illinois 57; 3:26 left 2H

Illinois is realy moving the ball now, especially between Hill, Finke and Coleman-Lands. JCL (17 points) with two huge threes, but Illinois missed opportunities to widen the lead. It's a possession game now.

Providence 52, Illinois 51; 7:44 left 2H

Illinois could only hold down Kris Dunn for so long. He hit a three and just finished a highlight alley-oop dunk. Still, Illinois' bench has been phenomenal tonight, as has Malcolm. Hill. This should be an exciting finish.

Providence 43, Illinois 43; 11:05 left 2H

Have a night Michael Finke. The redshirt freshman finally looks comfortable. He has 12 points, and all 8 of the Illini's second-half points. This game has really slowed down with both teams going zone. This could become a free-throwing shooting contest. The Friars are already in the bonus. Illinois is one Friars foul away from being in the bonus.

Providence 39, Illinois 35; 15:36 left 2H

Illinois started the second half cold but Michael Finke has kept them afloat. He hit a three and just scored a layup with a free throw coming. Kris Dunn picked up his third foul and went to the bench. Leron Black picked up his third foul quickly. He's played three minutes. Mike Thorne (0-3 FG) has been a nonfactor.

HALF: Providence 32, Illinois 30

HALF STATS

FG: ILL 13-28 (46%), PC 13-39 (33%)

3FG: ILL 4-11, PC 4-11

FT: ILL 0-0, PC 2-4

Rebounds: ILL 19 (4 off), PC 21 (10 off)

Assists: ILL 8, PC 7

Turnovers: ILL 9, PC 3

Blocks: ILL 3, PC 1

2nd chance points: ILL 5, PC 11

Individual stats

Malcolm Hill, ILL: 9 points (4-8 FG), 9 rebounds, 2 blocks

Jalen Coleman-Lands, ILL: 8 points (3-5 FG)

Mike Thorne Jr., ILL: 0 points, 2 fouls, 8 minutes

Leron Black, ILL: 0 points, 2 fouls, 2 minutes

Kris Dunn, PC: 1 point (0-3 FG), 2 fouls

Ben Bentil, PC: 11 points, 5 rebounds

Kyron Cartwright, PC: 8 points

Providence 26, Illinois 25; 3:55 left 1H

Illinois has a huge opportunity right now. Kris Dunn has 1 point (0-3 FG) and is on the bench with two fouls. But the Illini are shooting themselves in the foot with eight turnovers and a poor job on the offensive glass (Providence 9 offensive rebounds). Jalen Coleman-Lands is feeling it a bit though. He's 3-for-4 with two threes. The freshman can really shoot.

Providence 23, Illinois 19; 7:47 left 1H

Both teams' defensive game plans are working. Kris Dunn has 1 point for Providence. Mike Thorne Jr. is scoreless. John Groce might need to ride Jalen Coleman-Lands longer. That stroke looks good tonight, but defense is the focus. Malcolm Hill looks good (7 points, 3-for-4 FG) early on.

Providence 14, Illinois 12; 11:41 left 1H

Malcolm Hill and Kyron Cartwright just got into a scrum. There's some intensity to this game. Maverick Morgan got stuffed at the rim following a great pass from Michael Finke but he bounced back with four quick points. Good to see improvement in the early going. Toughness is the biggest factor for him. We know he has skill.

Illinois has five turnovers and five made baskets (on 9 shot attempts).

Providence 7, Illinois 6; 15:27 left 1H

Both teams did their homework. The Illini are hedging Kris Dunn early and double-teaming him, forcing two Dunn turnovers. The Friars are doubling Mike Thorne Jr. in the post. The Friars are cleaning up on the offensive glass (6 already) and have four second-chance points. The Illini are getting a lot of open outside shots. Austin and Hill both hit a three. But both Black and THorne have offensive fouls, adding to Illinois' early turnover trouble (three). Providence has 11 shot attempts. Illinois has four.

Tipoff

As Derek Piper predicted in his preview, Leron Black is starting for Illinois, along with Khalid Lewis, Malcolm Hill, Alex Austin and Mike Thorne Jr. Freshman Aaron Jordan moves to the bench to join D.J. Williams and Jalen Coleman-Lands.

Black looked really good in pregame. He's much more explosive off that knee. He played 15 minutes against North dakota State and had five points and five rebounds. He's been smiling most of pregame and is pumped up for this one.

30 minutes to tipoff

This game is part of inaugural Gavitt Tipoff Games, the first of eight years of nonconference matchups between the Big Ten and Big East. Each Big Ten team will play four times in the series, and each Big East team will participate six times in eight seasons.

The series is named in honor of Dae Gavitt, a former Providence coach and commissioner of the Big East. He almost single handedly kept the Big East together for as long as it stayed together. If you haven't, watch the ESPN 30 for 30 film \"Requiem for the Big East.\" Providence will honor him before the game. It'd be just another honor. The court here is named after him and he has a banner hanging here at Dunkin' Donuts Center.

Former St. John's and UCLA coach Steve Lavin is here. Lavin's replacement at St. John's, NBA Hall of Famer Chris Mullin, landed Illinois recruiting target and Morgan Park grad Marcus LoVett. LoVett was in the news today. It sounds like he and his family may pursue legal counsel after the NCAA ruled him ineligible for this season.

Speaking of former Illinois recruiting targets, Jalen Brunson is averaging 10.5 points, 5.0 assists and 1.0 turnover in his first two games at Villanova. Glynn Watson Jr. had 12 points against Villanova last night, and Ed Morrow had six points and five rebounds.

Illinois will be wearing blue tonight.

The #Illini will be wearing blue tonight against @PCFriarsmbb. #GavittTipoffGames pic.twitter.com/cBIDgZIN24

— Illini Basketball (@IlliniMBB) November 18, 2015

50 minutes to tipoff

Bill Raftery, best college basketball analyst? Top-3? Top-5? I've always found him enjoyable yet not over-the-top, while providing great analysis. He just loves the game.

Illinois is the only team that starts the season against three teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season. The tougher stat: Illinois will stay in hotels for 13 to 14 days this month. The travel schedule is brutal thanks to the State Farm Center renovation. The team play stwo more games in Springfield this weekend (Chattanooga and Chicago State) before heading to Florida for the Emerald Coast Classic to play UAB and either Iowa State or Virginia Tech. The Illini finally play on their true home court on Dec. 2 against Notre Dame.

Providence has a student band -- with a guy shredding on the electric guitar -- and a D.J. courtside. I might ask him to play some Timberlake.

90 minutes to tipoff

Illini point guard Jaylon Tate is in street clothes and will not play tonight. He suffered an open dislocation of his right pinky finger in the season opener against North Florida. He has a splint on the injured finger. John Groce has not put a timetable on his return.

Dunn is a great player but Providence is far from a proven team. The Friars lost most of its production from last season, including leading scorer LaDontae Henton (who averaged close to 20 ppg). The Friars had just four players score more than two points against Harvard: Dunn had 32 points.6-foot-8 sophomore forward Rodney Bullock had 20 points and six rebounds, 6-foot-8 freshman Ryan Fazekas had 10 points and three rebounds and 6-foot-9 sophomore Ben Bentil had eight points and 11 rebounds. Also, 6-foot-8, 285-pound freshman Quadree Smith gives the Friars some girth inside, but Mike Thorne Jr. should have a height and size advantage inside for most of the game.

2 hours to tipoff

MAC football is referred to as the Cradle of Coaches. Well, Providence could be the cradle of great basketball coaches. Just a few former Providence basketball greats who turned into coaching stars: all-time NBA wins leader Lenny Wilkens, former Houston Rockets coach John Egan, former Georgetown coaching great John Thompson, former Florida coach and current Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan, former Kings and Nuggets coach Mike Malone, current Miami coach Jim Larranaga and current Minnesota coach Rich Pitino.

NBA players from Providence include: Jimmy Walker, Marvin Barnes, Joe Hassett, Otis Thorpe, Dickey Simpkins, Eric Murdock, Austin Croshere, God Shammgod, Eric Williams, Ryan Gomes, Marshon Brooks.

Former players with banners here at Dunkin' Dunuts Center are: Walker, Wilkens, Hassett, Barnes, Ernie DiGregorio, Kevin Stacom, Egan, Ray Flynn, Vinnie Ernst, Thompson and Jim Hadnot. There are two Final Four Banners (1973 and 1987) and two Big East Champions banners (1994 and 2014).

2 hours, 15 minutes to tipoff

More than two dozen NBA scouts are schedule to be in attendance tonight, including Philadelphia 76ers general manager and president of basketball operations Sam Hinkie. While Illinois' Malcolm Hill and Mike Thorne Jr. may get some looks, I don't think they're here for them. Actually, I know. They're here to see Providence junior point guard Kris Dunn, a preseason All-American and the preseason Big East Player of the Year. Dunn, a possible lottery pick, had 32 points, 8 steals, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in Providence's season-opening win over Harvard. Yeah, he's really good.

2 hours, 30 minutes to tipoff

Celebrate, Illini fans! Illinois basketball is finally on television!

The first two Illini games were stream only on BTN Digital Network (a paid subscription -- which is lame; at least stream it on BTN2Go.com, BTN) and ESPN3. Tonight's broadcast is on Fox Sports 1 with a top-notch announcing team: Tim Brandon on play by play and Bill Raftery (analyst).

Illinois has five more games on stream: Chicago State (Nov. 23, ESPN3), Western Carolina (Dec. 5, ESPN3), Yale (Dec. 9, ESPN3), UIC (Dec. 12, ESPN3) and South Dakota (Dec. 19, ESPN3).

Plenty of rumors about the Illini athletic director search. I've been posting the latest buzz the last week on the premium board.

3 hours until tipoff

Greetings from Providence! Jeremy Werner, Illini Inquirer publisher, here at the Dunkin' Donuts Center where the Illini will play Providence in the inagural Gavitt Tipoff Games.

Interesting tidbit: there's a Starbucks right across the street from the Dunkin' Donuts Center. #Murica #Capitalism

Welp, I can cross Rhode Island off my states list. Not sure why else I would visit here. I keep thinking of \"Wayne's World\" today. \"Imagine being magically whisked away to...Rhode Island. Hi, I'm in Rhode Island.\" Now, I know Wayne Campbell says \"Delaware\" and not Rhode Island, but...they're kinda the same thing, right? No? Well, anyway...

A few fun facts about this state. It was the first of the 13 colonies to declare independence from Britain, was the last of the states to ratify the constitution, is the smallest state in area and the second most densely populated (behind New Jersey). Gotta love fun facts!

Oh, and they love seafood and hockey here. I took a walk around the city this afternoon and they already have an ice rink set up in one of the big parks. It fits the weather. Pretty chilly here today. One thing I love about these Eastern seaboard cities is the history. A lot of colonial brick buildings and brick streets. Boston is the best walking city out here in my opinion. Take a walk down The Freedom Trail and get the Sam Adams Brick Red Ale (which is only served on The Freedom Trail). You won't regret it.

My cabbie from the airport said the Dunkin' Donuts Center is the best place for entertainment in the city. Not sure if that's a sign of the city's love for Providence basketball (and preseason All-American Kris Dunn) or an indictment of the city's nightlife. Though, it is just a Wednesday. Marcus Jackson of The News-Gazette and I may have to investigate.

Speaking of Marcus, big congrats to him on moving to the news side of The News-Gazette. He's done a great job on the Illini basketball beat the past three-plus seasons. While covering college sports is awesome -- and we all appreciate it -- a normal schedule and less grief from the fan base might allow him to relax a little more.

Vegas lists Illinois as a 7.5-point underdog. KenPom.com projects a 79-73 Providence win and gives Illinois a 30 percent chance of winning. More on that later.

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