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An Illini Student’s Guide to Basketball Gameday

Everything you need to know before your first game as an Illini.

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

As an incoming senior at the University of Illinois, I have been lucky enough to see some of the most competitive and exciting Illinois basketball games in the past decade. It’s no debate that men’s basketball is the best sport in Champaign, which makes seats in the Orange Krush for the most dedicated of fans.

While there are some Illinois fans who will memorize every player on the roster, travel across state lines for games and know every in-game chant, other students attend only a few home games a year to cheer on their university.

This article will provide a complete guide for incoming and current Illinois students about the typical student gameday for both the die-hard to the casual fan.

The Diehard

A crucial component of being a die-hard Illinois basketball fan is becoming a member of the Orange Krush. The Orange Krush was established in 1998, organize the men’s and women’s student section and raise money for charitable organizations. Besides being one of the loudest and intimidating student sections in the country, they are known for sneaking into opposing student sections which (sometimes) goes wrong.

While the Orange Krush is one of the best student sections in the nation, becoming a member is no easy task. Currently, there is only 1,200 seats allotted for the Orange Krush, all along the court and the south end of State Farm Center, making it one of the smallest student sections in the Big Ten. But these lucky few students can watch their Illini in the best seats in the house.

Typically, tickets for the Orange Krush go on sale in early September. This season, students who have football season tickets will have preference for the basketball season tickets.

In 2022-23, the 3,000 season tickets available sold out in only 36 minutes. Besides this initial ticket sale, the only way to get into the Orange Krush is to buy someone else’s student section ticket.


Even if you are lucky enough to have a student section ticket, you are not guaranteed to get a seat in the section. For the 2022-23 season, entrance to the basketball games was done in a brand new way. Instead of a wristband system that would decide what line you are in, the Orange Krush has one singular line for all student season ticket holders.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Illinois Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

It’s simple: If you are one of the first 1,200 students in this line, you will make it into the student section.

While door typically opens around 75 minutes prior to tipoff, you should plan on arriving at State Farm Center around three hours before the game. The “appropriate” arrival time depends on the importance of the game and tip time. The earlier you arrive, you have a higher chance of making it into the student section. Typically, most students bring some sort of iced beverage for their wait, regardless of the temperature outside.

So, great, after all that, you’ve made it into the student section. After you enter, you run through the concourse to get the best seats possible. Before the game begins, you will need to wait around an hour as the players warm up and the stadium fills up.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska at Illinois Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Once the game begins, you have one job: Be Loud.

The Casual

Unlike the diehard Illinois fan, this Illinois student probably hears about the game about a day before and buys the ticket the day off. These students buy a ticket from the student portal or acquire a friend’s ticket. The casual fan is most likely to pregame at KAMS, especially if it is on a weekend or very important game. Around a half an hour before the game, they leave for the State Farm Center.

For students who bought a ticket from the student portal or if the student section is completely full, there are seats for them reserved in the nosebleeds. As these students have probably not been to an Illinois game before, let’s review some traditions and chants before during the game:

Pregame Chants

For the students in the student section, every seat will have a newspaper with a semi-mean slogan against the opponent. During the opponent introductions, the students read the newspaper and after the pregame hype video, students in the student section shake and then rip up the newspaper. After team introductions, the pregame hype song is Kernkraft 400 by Zombie Nation.

In-Game Chants

  • ILL-INI: A classic chant (self-explanatory)
  • Oskee Wow-Wow (Clap left to right)
  • Three In One (From Fighting Illini Athletic Band during Halftime)
  • Holding one finger up when Illinois shoots free throws
  • After an Illinois player makes a three, his name is announced and the student section screams “boom.”
  • A new tradition: McNuggets for missed free throws. If an opponent misses two free throws all students get free McDonald’s nuggets.
  • Low Brass Cheer (Scream “OH YEAH!”)


For both diehard or a casual fans, there are many places to celebrate an Illinois victory. The best option is KAMS as nothing feels better then celebrating an Illini win with icing out a Blue Guy.

If you don’t want to go to KAMS (or the line is around the block), you’ll have plenty of other college bar options. If the wins are monumental, such as winning a Big Ten championship, students will flood onto the Quad and throughout Green Street.

Soooooo, now it’s in your hands!

Now that you have been provided with a student’s guide to Illinois men’s basketball, you have no excuse not to attend every game and become a “diehard” fan. But being a “diehard fan” doesn’t mean just supporting men’s basketball. It means showing up to football, men’s basketball, and all of the Olympic sports.

And most importantly, enjoy every game. There are only so many games as a student, so scream as loud as you can and celebrate each victory.