CHAMPAIGN — The University of Illinois Fighting Illini, ranked eighth in the AP Top 25, is hosting a multi-team event to kick off their 2020-21 season. This event will take place beginning November 25. It will run through the Thanksgiving holiday through Black Friday, November 27.
This round-robin competition involves Wright State, Ohio, and North Carolina A&T (NCAT) featuring six games over three days.
Illinois will face off against NCAT on Wednesday, followed by the Ohio/Wright State game. On Turkey Day, Illinois tips off against Wright State, with NCAT/Ohio to follow. Illinois will finish off the event against Ohio, while NCAT tips off against Wright State.
According to the news release from Illini Athletics, all of the games will have an afternoon session time. However, the exact tip-off times will not be known until TV networks give their designations.
Wright State would finish their previous season at 25-7, winning the Horizon League championship with a 15-3 conference record. There are some connections to the Illini for Raiders coach Scott Nagy. His father, Dick Nagy, was a long-time assistant coach under Lou Henson. Additionally, Scott began his coaching career in Champaign as a graduate assistant. He would have a role in the “Flyin’ Illini” run to the 1989 Final Four.
While Ohio and NCAT had similar 17-15 finishes, both had different results in their respective conferences. Ohio would finish 8-10 in the MAC, while NCAT would finish 12-4 in the MEAC.
Ohio coach Jeff Boals is entering his second season.
NCAT coach Will Jones took over coaching duties mid-season last year, debuting on the sidelines of State Farm Center. The December 29, 2019 game would result in a 95-64 win for the Illini.
Illinois to enter the Jimmy V Classic, ACC/Big Ten Challenge and annual Braggin’ Rights game
After the Thanksgiving holiday, the Fighting Illini will compete in the Jimmy V Classic, a national marquee event. That game will be on December 2 against the second-ranked Baylor Bears.
Baylor is entering the new season following a 26-4 2019-20 campaign, finishing second in the Big 12 at 15-3. The team, with coach Scott Drew at the helm, would end the season ranking fifth in the AP poll.
The three home games and Baylor contest join road games in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at No. 9 Duke (Dec. 8) and Braggin’ Rights at Missouri (Dec. 12) in the current Illini schedule. One remaining non-conference game, as well as the full Big Ten slate, will be announced when finalized.
Games to take place without a crowd
Illini Athletics will be enforcing the same protocols under use at Memorial Stadium; this means that there will be no public ticket sales for basketball games at State Farm Center.
Season-ticket holders and those holding premium seating licenses will have prior payments rolled over. As a result, they will become a credit eligible for application toward 2021-22 season tickets.
Additionally, patrons can opt to have prior payments applied as a donation to the I Fund or even a full refund.
All season-ticket holders will be able to renew their seating locations for the 2021-22 season in spring 2021.
Additional news on Fighting Illini basketball, as well as scheduling updates and additions, can be viewed on their website.
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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.
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