Scott Richey

Scott Richey

Tipoff: Best first-month games featuring Big Ten teams

The 2018-19 season starts in less than two weeks with the first official practices. The first games? Just 51 days away. Our college basketball writer breaks down 10 of the best games featuring Big Ten teams in the first month of the season:

1. Michigan at Villanova, Nov. 14

Notes: McLaughlin, Epstein have big days, but Illini leave plenty on the table

CHICAGO — Chase McLaughlin was automatic inside 40 yards the last two seasons, missing just one field goal in 2016. Beyond that was a different proposition in his first two years as Illinois' full-time kicker.

Fourth-quarter rally by Bulls squaders Illini's chance at 3-0

CHICAGO — Illinois bent and bent and bent defensively through three-plus quarters Saturday against South Florida. The Illini gave up yardage — particularly in the passing game — but made enough key stops and let the Bulls hurt themselves with penalties to keep points off the board.

The Illini bent until they broke.

QUICK HITS: Illinois falls 25-19 to South Florida

WHAT HAPPENED

Illinois' inability to finish drives with anything other than a Chase McLaughlin field goal left the door open for South Florida. The Bulls waltzed through it by scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter.

WHAT IT MEANS

LIVE! South Florida

South Florida 25, Illinois 19. FINAL

Illinois was one quarter away from its first 3-0 start since 2011.

But the Illini will have to wait another year if they want to reach that accomplishment.

Illini stay unbeaten in return home

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois volleyball's return to Huff Hall after three weekends on the road — even as successful as they were with eight straight wins away from home — was bound to provide some nervous energy the Illini would have to handle Friday night against Northern Iowa.

Thursday's highlights: Rogers sets O/SF soccer record

In volleyball
■ Argenta-Oreana 2, Arcola 0. Amaya Fox had seven kills and 11 digs, Camilyn Newbanks chipped in 22 assists and five digs and A-O (8-4, 1-0) topped Arcola in Little Okaw Valley Conference play. Arianna Warren had two kills and eight blocks for the Purple Riders (2-9, 0-4).

Illini's Epstein is at full speed ahead

CHAMPAIGN — Rod Smith got in some good-natured ribbing on Mike Epstein after Illinois' 34-14 win against Western Illinois. Those 38-yard carries Epstein broke against the Leathernecks last Saturday night? Good, but they could have been better.

Thursday's prep highlights: Rodgers sets school record in O/SF win

In volleyball

Argenta-Oreana 2, Arcola 0. Amaya Fox had seven kills and 11 digs, Camilyn Newbanks chipped in 22 assists and five digs and A-O (8-4, 1-0) topped Arcola in Little Okaw Valley Conference play. Arianna Warren had two kills and eight blocks for the Purple Riders (2-9, 0-4).