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Illinois-Minnesota rescheduled amid Illini’s COVID outbreak

The Illini will try to play next week.

NCAA Basketball: St. Francis (PA) at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois will try to play next week in its Big Ten re-opener.

According to the team, Sunday’s game at Minnesota is being rescheduled to Tuesday, Jan. 4 at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on FS1.

The Illini had a COVID outbreak earlier this week inside the program after their Braggin’ Rights win over Missouri on Dec. 22. Since then, Illinois had to cancel its nonconference finale on Wednesday night at home against Florida A&M.

Amid several Big Ten COVID outbreaks already this season — including Wisconsin and Ohio State — the conference changed its rules this week regarding forfeitures.

The adjusted policy for the rest of this season allows the league to review every affected game and decide whether it can be rescheduled, declare a no-contest or declared a forfeit.

“The conference office and all 14 Big Ten member institutions have been in continuous contact about developments related to COVID-19,” Big Ten Conference commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “The well-being of our student-athletes and our entire athletic communities is our top priority and we are updating our forfeiture policy to support their health and safety as well as the integrity of conference competition.”

Illinois’ next scheduled game after Minnesota is Jan. 6 at home against Maryland. That game will also be the first under new rules at State Farm Center requiring either proof of COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of tipoff.

The Illini are already 2-0 in the 20-game Big Ten schedule after picking up a pair of wins in early December. Illinois is also right outside the AP Top 25, coming in this week as the top vote-getter outside the rankings.

Illinois’ men’s team isn’t the only one struggling with a COVID outbreak right now, too. The Illini women, coached by Nancy Fahey, have had to postpone their first two Big Ten matchups due to cases inside the program. Illinois is currently 5-7 this season, likely another one without a NCAA Tournament appearance.