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Ranking Illinois Basketball’s 2018-19 Schedule: Part I

Breaking down the toughest schedule in program history.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Three weeks until basketball, Illini fans. We can do this.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to rank the games Illinois has scheduled for the 2018-19 season. With the extra two Big Ten games and the Maui Invitational, this is the toughest schedule the Illini have ever put together.

The way I’m going to rank these games is completely arbitrary. There’s no real formula or logic. These are simply the games I want to watch the most right now. If a magical genie appeared in my apartment right now and asked “Which Illini game would you like to watch right now?”, this would be the list in that order.

The most important factors, in no particular order, are:

  • Quality of Opponent
  • Rivalry (program rivalry, or just my own personal rivalry with schools I simply dislike)
  • Winnability
  • Date
  • Venue
  • Meme-ability

In this post we’ll rank the bottom eleven games, #31-#21. Okay, let’s jump into it.

31. Mississippi Valley State

Talk about a trap game. This will be Illinois’ sixth game of the season. They will play four high-major opponents leading into the game, and their next five opponents after this game will be high-major opponents. Their only low major opponent in a 10-game stretch. Fun!

It’s also at 1 p.m. on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. There’s football to watch and turkey to digest.

30. Florida Atlantic

This is the last game of the non-conference slate, right in between games with Mizzou and Indiana. Very similar to MVSU. It’s also on Saturday, Dec. 29, which means New Year’s Eve is on the following Monday. Which means I will be drinking from Friday the 28th through the Rose Bowl. May miss this one.

29. East Tennessee State

Don’t have nearly as much analysis here. Just a low-major opponent. Only bad things can happen in these games.

28. Evansville

The first game of the season! We’ve also reached the fourth and final low-major opponent in this year’s roster. No, seriously.

27. Rutgers

What? #Illinutgers this low?! Yes. The beauty of Illinutgers is how unwatchable it is.

26. @ Penn State

The Bryce Jordan Center is about as dead of an atmosphere as a Northwestern home football game.

25. UNLV

Why are we still playing UNLV? I always think we should beat them and we never do and it makes me incredibly angry.

24. @ Ohio State

This game is on Valentine’s Day. Either I’ll be sad and lonely, or missing the game with the future love of my life. Do better, Big Ten.

23. Minnesota

We’re gonna have to see Richard Pitino’s face. Enough said. Shocking it’s this high.

22. Wisconsin

Wisconsin is just boring. Ethan Happ is boring. Greg Gard is boring. I’m bored typing this.

21. @ Wisconsin

Again?! Are you serious? Even though it’s a house of horrors for us, I find the Kohl Center to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing venues on screen.

Come back next Thursday for Part II (#20-11) in our rankings of Illinois Basketball’s 2018-19 schedule!

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