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J. Thomas McNamara

       Start times and television designations have been assigned for the majority of games on the 2021-22 Illinois Men’s Basketball Schedule.

TV Notables
• Illinois’ season opener will air on BTN, with the conference network televising the Nov. 9 game vs. Jackson State.
• Illinois will appear five times on ESPN/2, twice on FOX, once on CBS, four times on FS1 and eight times on BTN during its 20-game conference schedule.
• Big Ten play begins Dec. 3, with the Illini hosting Rutgers at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.
• Illinois will have a marquee audience on Dec. 11, with the Arizona home game slated for a 4 p.m. broadcast on FOX.
• Braggin’ Rights on Dec. 22 in St. Louis is set for an 8 p.m. tip-off on BTN.
• FOX will be in Champaign on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, Jan. 17), televising the Purdue game at 11 a.m.
• Illinois’ home games against Michigan (Jan. 14, 8 p.m.) and Ohio State (Feb. 24, 8 p.m.) will both air on FS1.
• The Michigan State home game on Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. is slated for ESPN/2 Super Tuesday showcase.
• The regular season concludes March 6, with FOX airing a Sunday night showdown with Iowa at State Farm Center (6:30 p.m.)

Tickets for Fighting Illini basketball are moving fast, with mobile passes and student season tickets both sold out. Mini-plans are on sale now, featuring the Go Illini Mini Plan and the Friday Night Frenzy Mini Plan. Both plans include four games for a total of just $129 and provide fans the ability to guarantee their tickets inside State Farm Center for marquee games ahead of the Oct. 27 on-sale date for single-game tickets.

Go Illini Mini Plan
Arizona (Dec. 11, 4 p.m., FOX)
Ohio State (Feb. 24, 8 p.m., FS1)
Jackson State (Nov. 9, TBD, BTN)
Florida A&M (Dec. 29, TBD, BTN)

Friday Night Frenzy Mini Plan
Michigan (Jan. 14, 8 p.m., FS1)
Rutgers (Dec. 3, 6 p.m., ESPN2)
Arkansas State (Nov. 12, TBD, B1G+)
UT Rio Grande Valley (Nov. 26, TBD, B1G+)

Excitement is high once again in Champaign, with head Coach Brad Underwood‘s fifth Illini squad returning three starters and six of its top nine players from last year’s rotation. Led by national player of the year candidate Kofi Cockburn, 2021 Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year Andre Curbelo, and fifth-year starters Trent FrazierDa’Monte Williams and Jacob Grandison, Illinois welcomes back 63% of its minutes, 60% of its points, and 69% of its rebounds while adding standout transfers and a top-25 ranked recruiting class to the mix.

The winningest Big Ten program over the last two years, Illinois is coming off a 24-7 campaign, including a 16-4 mark in conference play followed by the Big Ten Tournament championship and No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Illinois set school records with 19 victories against Big Ten competitors and six wins over top-10 teams. The Illini ended the year at No. 2 in the AP poll, the second-highest final ranking in program history.

I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

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