courtesy Illini athletics

Illini hoops to play BYU at United Center

Illini to play BYU at United Center for inaugural doubleheader with Northwestern; no return game for BYU

Illinois basketball officially announced it will play BYU on Dec. 17 as part of the inaugural State Farm Chicago Legends Doubleheader. In-state Big Ten rival Northwestern will host Dayton as part of the event.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the event "will feature a celebration of so-called "Legends of Chicago basketball," selected by a yet-to-be-formed committee."

An official announcement is expected later Thursday.

"Countless players from the city have lasting legacies within our program, so it's a great chance for our team to be part of (this)," Illini head coach John Groce told the Chicago Tribune.

An Illinois basketball spokesman told IlliniInquirer.com that there will be no return game for the event since it is a promotional event run by Chicago public relations firm Kemperlesnik. Returning a game for recent opponents recently had narrowed Illinois' scheduling options for the rest of the nonconference slate.

Illinois is 3-2 all-time against BYU and the two schools haven't played since 1980.

Illinois has played an annual game at the United Center since 1994. But attendance has dropped significantly in recent years due to the Illini's struggles and lack of marquee opponents. Last season, only 5,151 fans attended the Illini's narrow 83-79 win over UIC, the last of the Illini's three-game pact with their sister school.

Illinois is 36-14 all-time at the United Center but has lost eight of its last 13 at the home of the Chicago Bulls.

Illinois basketball's nonconference schedule includes the BYU game at the United Center, a neutral site game against VCU at Miami and the annual Braggin' Rights game against Missouri in St. Louis. The Illini also will participate in the NIT Season Tip-Off in Brooklyn. The field includes Florida State, West Virginia and Temple.


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