Champaign, Ill. (UI Release) -The Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced Wednesday the 2012-13 non-conference schedule for the Illinois men's basketball team. Nine home games, between three and five match-ups with squads that participated in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, and trips to Hawaii; Spokane, Wash.; St. Louis; and Chicago highlight the non-conference slate for the Fighting Illini.
Illini nation is showing strong support for the beginning of the John Groce era, with season tickets currently renewed at a 92-percent rate. A limited number of C-level season tickets are now on sale for new season ticket holders. Those tickets can be purchased online at FightingIllini.com, by phone (866-ILLINI-1 or 217-333-3470) or in person at the Assembly Hall South Box Office.
Student season tickets also are on sale now. Students can purchase their season tickets exclusively at FightingIllini.com and must order by Sept. 21 to receive priority seating.
Single-game tickets will go on sale on Oct. 23 at 9 a.m., online, by phone or in person.
Illinois tips off the regular season with a pair of home games. The Illini face Colgate in the opener on Nov. 9, followed by St. Francis (N.Y.) on Nov. 12.
Up next is a four-game trip to the Hawaiian Islands. It starts in Honolulu, where the Illini will face Hawaii on Nov. 16. Illinois then heads to the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational, Nov. 19-21. The Illini take on USC in the opening round on Nov. 19 (11 p.m. CT, ESPN2). Also in Illinois' half of the bracket is Texas vs. Chaminade, with other first-round match-ups consisting of North Carolina vs. Mississippi State and Marquette vs. Butler. The semifinals will be held on Nov. 20 with the championship on Nov. 21. The complete tournament bracket is available at MauiInvitational.com.
Following the 10-day journey, the Illini return home for three consecutive games at the Assembly Hall, starting with Gardner-Webb on Nov. 25. The Bulldogs are coached by Chris Holtmann, a former assistant coach of Groce's at Ohio and his former teammate at Taylor University.
Georgia Tech visits Champaign on Nov. 28 for the 14th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge (8 p.m., ESPN2). Illinois carries a three-game winning streak in the Challenge into the match-up with the Yellow Jackets. The Illini have won six Challenge games overall, tied for the most among Big Ten teams.
The home stand wraps up with Western Carolina on Dec. 4.
The Illini then head west yet again, facing Gonzaga in Spokane, Wash., on Dec. 8 in the final game of a four-year series with the Bulldogs. Last season, the Illini defeated Gonzaga in Champaign, 82-75.
Illinois' last two games at the Assembly Hall prior to the conference season are against Norfolk State on Dec. 11 and Eastern Kentucky on Dec. 16.
The Illini conclude non-conference play with a pair of neutral-site contests. First up is a showdown with Missouri on Dec. 22, in the 32nd edition of the Braggin' Rights at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The final test before Big Ten play will come in Chicago on Dec. 29 against Auburn, in the Illini's annual appearance at the United Center.
Illinois will play two exhibition games at the Assembly Hall prior to the regular season, facing Lewis on Oct. 27 - after the Illini football homecoming game vs. Indiana - and West Chester on Nov. 4. The Orange and Blue Scrimmage, meanwhile, will be held on Oct. 22.
Remaining times and television information, along with the Big Ten schedule, will be announced when available.
You can find the complete non-conference schedule here