Illinois releases non-conference basketball schedule

John Supinie

A home game against North Carolina, a swing through Madison Square Garden and a trip to Seattle for a battle with Gonzaga highlight the non-conference portion of the Illinois basketball schedule released Wednesday.

Illinois plays seven home non-conference games, including a matchup with Southern Illinois, while also hitting the road for six games away from Assembly Hall before the start of Big Ten Conference play.

The season opener is Nov. 8 against UC-Irvine in the 2K Sports Classic, benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.

The Illini also host Toledo on 2K play on Nov. 10 before playing Southern Illinois on Nov. 13 in Assembly Hall in the first meeting between Illinois coach Bruce Weber and his former program.

Illinois also meets North Carolina, Yale, Oakland and Northern Colorado in Assembly Hall.

Making its first appearance in Madison Square Garden since 2003, Illinois will face Texas in the 2K Sports semifinals before meeting Pittsburgh or Maryland the following night. Illinois also plays Gonzaga (Seattle), Illinois-Chicago (Chicago) and Missouri (St. Louis) in other neutral site games.

The Illini play at Western Michigan is a road game and a payback for the Illinois-Western Michigan football game in 2008.

The Big Ten schedule, game times and TV coverage are expected to be released later this month.

Illinois basketball non-conference schedule

(Home games in CAPS)

Time, TV where available

Oct. 24 -- Orange and Blue scrimmage

Oct. 29 -- LEWIS (exhibition)

Nov. 2 -- SOUTHERN INDIANA

Nov. 8 -- UC-IRVINE

Nov. 10 -- TOLEDO

Nov. 13 -- SOUTHERN ILLINOIS

Nov. 18 -- vs. Texas, Madison Square Garden, New York, 8 p.m., ESPN2

Nov. 19 -- vs. Maryland or Pittsburgh, Madison Square Garden, 4 p.m. or 6 p.m.

Nov. 23 -- YALE

Nov. 27 -- at Western Michigan

Nov. 30 -- NORTH CAROLINA, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Dec. 4 -- vs. Gonzaga, Key Arena, Seattle

DEc. 8 -- OAKLAND

Dec. 12 -- NORTHERN COLORADO

Dec. 18 -- vs. Illinois-Chicago, United Center, Chicago

Dec. 22 -- vs. Missouri, Scottrade Center, St. Louis