We aren't going to know the full 2013-14 basketball schedule until late August or early September, but thanks to a tweet from Jeff Goodman on Thursday Illinois' non-conference schedule next season is rounding into shape. And, to be quite honest, it's a rather boring shape.
Illinois will play in a five-team round-robin along with Bradley, Alabama State, Jacksonville State and Chicago State, per source.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) May 2, 2013
Now, add those games to the ones we already knew the Illini would be playing and this is how the non-conference schedule stacks up at the moment.
- at UNLV
- at Auburn -in Birmingham
- UIC - in Chicago
- Missouri - in St. Louis
- Alabama State
- Jacksonville State
- Chicago State
- at an ACC team yet to be determined
That's ten games and non-conference slates typically consist of 13 games when you're not playing in a tournament like the Maui Invitational, and the Illini will not be playing in a preseason tournament this season.
Now, the good news is that looking at that schedule I see what should be some wins. I don't know if the Illini are going 13-1 in non-conference play again next year, but that schedule sure makes it look within reach. However, on the other side of that coin, it's not exactly an impressive resume in the eyes of the tournament committee.
Remember, the big reason the Illini (21-11, 8-10) made the tournament this season and Iowa (20-11, 9-9) didn't was because the Illini had wins against Gonzaga and Butler in the non-conference season. Iowa had wins over, I don't know, Iowa State and Northern Iowa.
John Groce has said that he'd like more home games in the non-conference season and it appears we're getting them, it's just that we aren't really getting premiere opponents in those games. Which means that the Illini will not only have to kick ass in their non-conference schedule next season, but will have to win at least half of their Big Ten games as well if they're going to impress the tournament committee.