Already playing in the Hoophall Miami Invitational and State Farm Chicago Legends brackets, Illinois will now also play in the NIT Season Tip-Off at the Barclays Center. The Fighting Illini join West Virginia, Temple and Florida State in the 2016 field.
On Thanksgiving, Illinois will face West Virginia while Temple and Florida State also battle. The winners will advance to the championship game on Friday, November 25. The losing teams on Thanksgiving will play again on Friday as well.
Last season, the Illini struggled with injuries and suspensions to finish 15-19 overall and 5-13 in Big Ten play. Illinois is trying to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013 while also trying to win the Big Ten Conference title for the first time since 2005. The Fighting Illini failed to make the NIT Tournament last season.
West Virginia concluded the 2015-2016 season with a 26-9 record after a second place finish in the Big 12. The Mountaineers were upset by Stephen F. Austin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Temple won the American Conference with a 14-4 record while finishing 21-12 overall. Temple lost to Iowa on a Adam Woodbury buzzer-beating putback in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Florida State finished 20-14 overall and 8-10 in the ACC. After making the NIT, the Seminoles lost to top-seeded Valparaiso in the second round.
At the Hoophall Miami Invitational, the Fighting Illini will face Virginia Commonwealth University on December 3. For the inaugural State Farm Chicago Legends game, Illinois will battle Brigham Young University on December 17. Illinois will also face North Carolina State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, proving John Groce's program plenty of opportunities for quality wins early in the season. .