Vegas Invite could prove non-conference highlight for Illini

Vegas Invite could prove non-conference highlight for Illini
June 14, 2014, 7:15 pm
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Vinnie Duber

The Illini are going to Vegas, baby.

The orange and blue have yet to release their non-conference hoops schedule for the upcoming season, but the school announced Friday they will be playing in the Las Vegas Invitational on Nov. 27 and 28.

The first of two games will pit the Illini against Indiana State. Win it, and they'll face the winner of Baylor-Memphis the next night. If they lose Game 1, they'll face the loser of that matchup in Game 2.

Depending on what the rest of that unreleased non-conference schedule looks like, the two-day trip to Vegas could prove a highlight of the first half of the season. Like the Illini, Indiana State appeared in last season's NIT. The Sycamores lost by 10 to Arkansas in the first round, but that didn't erase a good season that saw them finish with a 23-11, second place in the Missouri Valley Conference.

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The second game, win or lose, will provide the Illini with an opponent that played in last season's NCAA tournament. Baylor was a No. 6 seed out of the Big 12, and the Bears made it all the way to the Sweet 16, where a loss to eventual Final Four team Wisconsin ended its tourney run. Memphis was a No. 8 seed from the American Athletics Conference and was eliminated in the Round of 32 by No. 1 seed Virginia.

The Illini will also host two games that fall under the umbrella of the invite, games against two of four opponents — Austin Peay, Brown, Prairie View A&M and Stephen F. Austin — at the State Farm Center in Champaign.

Illinois won the inaugural Las Vegas Invite back in 2005.