Last season the Fighting Illini men’s basketball team played one of the most demanding schedules in the country. Gonzaga, Iowa State, Xavier, Georgetown, Notre Dame, UNLV and Missouri were each featured on the 2018-19 schedule. All but one of those opponents — UNLV — defeated Illinois. It actually could’ve been even tougher (the Illini avoided playing Duke, Arizona, Auburn and San Diego State in the Maui Invitational). And I didn’t even mention the newly-introduced 20-game B1G season.
Year three for Brad Underwood is a big one. Illinois has actual expectations, with many analysts predicting a return to the NCAA Tournament.