It's official -- Fighting Illini basketball will host the BYU Cougars on December 17 at the United Center as part of the inaugural State Farm Chicago Legends doubleheader. The Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein originally reported this development way back in December of 2015, and CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein confirmed the event last month.
In addition to Illinois' contest against BYU, Northwestern will be hosting Dayton for the second game of the showcase. Television and time details haven't been announced yet.
BYU should be a nice early season test for the Fighting Illini. In 2015-16, the Cougars finished at No. 53 in the KenPom rankings after compiling an overall record of 26-11. While they failed to make the NCAA Tournament, BYU still managed to defeat UAB, Virginia Tech, and Creighton to advance to the NIT semi-finals. Seniors Kyle Collinsworth and Chase Fischer are two notable departures, but I BYU is expected to return a majority of their other top contributors.
Statement from John Groce
"The University of Illinois has many connections to Chicago. Countless players from the city have lasting legacies within our program, so it's a great chance for our team to be part of the State Farm Chicago Legends, an event that recognizes the many contributions of so many to the game of basketball. Not only are we excited to be part of this new staple in the Chicago sports calendar, we look forward to returning to Chicago and competing against a talented BYU team in front of a great Illini fan base."
Statement from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
"Chicago is a great sports town and has a special place in basketball history. We are excited to welcome a new college basketball doubleheader to town that will highlight Chicago's rich history and provide fans with a great day of college hoops. We look forward to hosting the inaugural State Farm Chicago Legends college basketball doubleheader and welcoming fans from throughout the Midwest and across the country."
In addition to the Chicago Legends doubleheader, Illinois has also scheduled the following games/events as part of their 2016 non-conference schedule.
- NIT Season Tip-Off (Illinois, Florida State, Temple, West Virginia)
- Big Ten/ACC Challenge (Illinois vs. N.C. State)
- Illinois vs. VCU (neutral site game; Miami, FL)
- Braggin' Rights Game (Illinois vs. Missouri)