Illinois basketball ready for Big Ten play?

Illini visit Northwestern Friday night in conference opener

CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) -- History will be made Friday night in Rosemont as the Illinois men's basketball team tips off Big Ten play against Northwestern. It's the earliest start date for league play in school history, the previous mark was Dec. 15, 1964 at Wisconsin.

The Big Ten tournament was moved up a week this season due to a scheduling conflict. The conference elected to move the annual tourney to New York City and Madison Square Garden but one of the world's most famous venues was already booked. It meant the entire Big Ten schedule had to be adjusted to make up for it.

Are the Illini (6-1) ready to face a Big Ten caliber team just a month into the season? 

"This year is about laying a foundation and teaching the fundamentals. Do I wish we had a few more things in? Absolutely but there's a point of giving them too much and then not doing anything very well," Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said.

Illinois and Northwestern are both coming off losses in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge earlier this week. The Illini lost at Wake Forest, the Wildcats dropped a road game at Georgia Tech. Tip time Friday night is set for 8 p.m. at Allstate Arena in Rosemont. Northwestern is playing all its games there this season, as Welsh-Ryan Arena undergoes renovation.


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