The 2015-16 season starts this Friday night for the Fighting Illini men’s basketball team.
Illinois is gearing up for the new basketball campaign, but in a different venue than what they’re used to. The Springfield Prairie Convention Center is hosting the first five games of the season while the State Farm Center finishes up the first stage of their renovations. While the crowd will be predominantly orange and blue, the Springfield matchups are not technically considered “home games” because they are not in Champaign.
The opponent Friday night in the season opener is North Florida, a team that made it to the NCAA tournament last year. While Illinois is expected to win, the Ospreys cannot be taken lightly. The good news for head coach John Groce is that the team is anticipating the return of one of their premiere players, Leron Black. Black had been out for several months after having a surgical procedure on his leg, and is progressing back to health ahead of schedule.
“He had a really good workout this weekend,” coach Groce said. “He came off a little bit sore, which is normal, but he is trying to fight through the soreness and figure that out.”
The first game of the year will not be televised, but you can listen to it on the Fighting Illini website’s radio stream. The first game in the newly-refurbished State Farm Center will be on December 2nd against Notre Dame. We will continue to update and follow the team as the season progresses.