Illinois opens the season by hosting Northeastern on Nov. 11 before embarking on a lengthy trip to the Hawaiian Islands. The Illini play at Hawaii on Nov. 16 and then head to the EA Sports Maui Invitational Nov. 19-21. Illinois plays Arizona State in the first round on the 19th (10:30 p.m. CT), will face either Duke or Princeton on the 20th, and will play a final game on the 21st. Other teams participating in the Maui Invite are Marquette, Oklahoma State, LSU and Chaminade.
Illinois next heads east, playing at Maryland on Nov. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the ninth annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Orange & Blue return to the Assembly Hall on Dec. 1, hosting Weber State. Next up is a trip to Chicago for the Lexus December to Remember Classic, where the Illini will face Arizona on Dec. 8 at the United Center.
Following semester exams, the Illini play back-to-back home games vs. Western Carolina (Dec. 17) and Miami-OH (Dec. 20) before traveling to St. Louis for the 27th annual Busch Braggin' Rights vs. Missouri on Dec. 22.
Illinois closes out non-conference play with consecutive home games vs. Loyola-MD (Dec. 28) and Tennessee State (Dec. 30).
This season marks the return of the 18-game Big Ten schedule, replacing the 16-game format that existed the previous 10 years. The Illini open the 2008 Big Ten slate by hosting a pair of games at the Assembly Hall. First up is defending conference champion Ohio State on Jan. 3 (7 p.m., ESPN) followed by Penn State on Jan. 6 (1 p.m., Big Ten Network).
Illinois goes on a difficult stretch of having four of its next five games on the road. After playing at Wisconsin (Jan. 10, 8 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2) and at Indiana (Jan. 13, Noon or 3:30 p.m., CBS), the Illini return home to face Michigan (Jan. 16, 8 p.m., BTN) before hitting the road again at Purdue (Jan. 19, 1 p.m., ESPN) and at Ohio State (Jan. 22, 8 p.m., BTN).
The Illini will then enjoy three out of four games at home, hosting Northwestern on Jan. 27 (7 p.m., BTN), traveling to Michigan State on Jan. 30 (8 p.m., BTN) and then returning to The Hall for back-to-back games vs. Purdue (Feb. 2, 2:30 p.m., BTN) and Indiana (Feb. 7, 8 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2).
After that, Illinois will navigate another stretch of having four out of five road games. The Illini play at Minnesota (Feb. 12, 8 p.m., BTN) and at Penn State (Feb. 16, 6 p.m., BTN), return to campus to host Wisconsin (Feb. 20, 8 p.m., BTN), then travel to Michigan (Feb. 23 or 24) and Iowa (March 1 or 2).
Illinois wraps up the regular season with a pair of home games, hosting Michigan State (March 4, 5 or 6) and closing against Minnesota on March 8 (Noon, BTN) with Senior Day at the Assembly Hall.
"We will play a very challenging schedule this year," Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber said. "We'll be tested right away with a difficult beginning, playing at Hawaii and then in the Maui Invitational with as strong of a field as they've had in a while. We open against Arizona State who has a lot of talented young players, and then you have teams like Duke, Marquette, LSU and Oklahoma State who have all been to the Final Four in recent years. We come home from Maui and then travel to Maryland, taking on another good opponent who is very successful on their home court. We have Arizona coming to the United Center, providing another great match-up and continuing what has been an exciting series of games between the two schools in recent years. And of course you have Missouri in St. Louis, which is always one of the biggest games on our schedule every year.
"We also have some strong teams in our other home games like Weber State and Miami of Ohio, who both made the tournament last year," Weber continued. "So we have a very challenging, but hopefully rewarding non-conference schedule ahead of us. It should definitely help us prepare for conference play. We've gone to 18 league games, so the Big Ten schedule will be even tougher than before. The competition will be there each and every night throughout the course of conference play. I feel like when you look at the quality of our non-conference games, some of them being on the road or at neutral sites, and then factor in 18 Big Ten games, by the end of the season we should have a very strong strength of schedule in terms of the national ratings."
All 18 of Illinois' Big Ten games will be televised. The Illini will make at least four appearances on ESPN/ESPN2, one on CBS and 10 on the Big Ten Network. TV information for Illinois' other three conference games will be determined at a later date.
Illinois' opening round game at Maui vs. Arizona State will be shown on ESPN2, while all 12 games of the Maui Invitational will appear on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU. The Illini's Big Ten/ACC Challenge game at Maryland will also be broadcast on ESPN2.
Remaining non-conference game-times and television information will be released when available. Dates and times for Illini Madness and the Orange & Blue Scrimmage will be announced at a later date. All times listed are Central.
Season ticket renewals have been mailed and sent via email. Season ticket holders can renew online at www.fightingillini.com, or by mail, phone (1-866-ILLINI-1) or fax (217-244-4170). The deadline for renewals is Sept. 6. Single-game tickets will go on sale Oct. 29.
Information provided by the U of I SID office.