On December 17th, Big Ten rivals The University of Illinois and Northwestern University will head to the United Center to play in the inaugural State Farm Chicago Legends Tournament. Both teams announced that they would be playing in the tournament on Thursday June 2nd, via press releases from their respective schools.
Illinois will play Brigham Young University and Northwestern will face off against the University of Dayton in a double-header that will be played at the United Center. BYU and The University of Dayton have both gone dancing to the NCAA Tournament in recent years, providing a great match up for the Big Ten Schools.
The tournament will also recognize players and coaches who have impacted Chicago sports teams.
Rahm Emanuel, the Mayor of Chicago, spoke on his excitement for the launch of the tournament.
"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," said Emanuel. "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."
State Farm and KemperLesnik- a sports media, marketing, and management agency in Chicago- will sponsor the event.
Northwestern head coach Chris Collins is looking forward to honoring Chicago as a sports city. Collins grew up in the Chicagoland area. His father, Doug Collins, was the head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 1986-1989.
"Personally, being part of an event that honors the great basketball tradition of the city of Chicago hits close to home for me," Collins said. "Having played high school basketball in the Chicagoland area and watching my father coach the Bulls, I know just how important the sport is to the city. The State Farm Chicago Legends is a fantastic opportunity to not only feature great college basketball, but also highlight the incredible contributions so many Chicagoans have had in the sport. It's an honor for Chicago's Big Ten Team to be part of this inaugural event."
Illinois head coach John Groce is also looking forward to the tournament.
"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," Groce said. "Not only are we excited to be part of this new staple in the Chicago sports calendar, we look forward to returning to hicago and competing against a talented BYU team in front of a great Illini fan base."
With the tournament scheduled near the holidays, the hope is that students, alumni, and their families from BYU, The University of Dayton, The University of Illinois, and Northwestern will head to the United Center to watch the teams face off. Chicago is home to a large amount of alumni from all four schools. Although two Big Ten rivals will not be facing each other in the non- conference tournament, being in the presence of each other should excite the teams and fans for what is shaping up to be an exciting season of basketball.