Klee: 2012-13 schedule breakdown

Illinois released its men's basketball schedule Thursday (times and TV coming later). We asked beat writer Paul Klee to break down John Groce's first season, one that includes a return to Hawaii and Chicago — and plenty in between

Oct. 22

Orange/Blue Scrimmage

Assembly Hall

Now's the day for Rayvonte Rice to get up plenty of shots in his lone opportunity to play

Oct. 27

vs. Lewis University (Exh.)

Assembly Hall

Ticket info? Student tickets on sale now, while single-game tickets go on sale Oct. 23

Nov. 4

vs. West Chester (Exh.)

Assembly Hall

Vanilla home slate offers just one name opponent — Georgia Tech (11-20 last season)

Nov. 9

vs. Colgate

Assembly Hall

Raiders added four players, including one from Spain and one from Alaska, to new roster

Nov. 12

vs. St. Francis (N.Y.)

Assembly Hall

John Groce prefers nine-man rotation, which should be possible in pre-Maui matchups

Nov. 16

at Hawaii

Honolulu

During UI's win at Hawaii in '07, Hawaii broadcast football game vs. Nevada on big screen

Nov. 19

vs. USC

at Maui Invitational

(11 p.m., ESPN2)

New-look Trojans, with four Division I transfers, offer dangerous matchup for Illini

Nov. 20

vs. Texas/Chaminade

at Maui Invitational

Maui favorites North Carolina, Texas present opportunity to raise profile for Selection Sunday

Nov. 21

vs. TBA

at Maui Invitational

Illinois has never won Maui Invitational but finished second to Arizona in 2000

Nov. 25

vs. Gardner-Webb

Assembly Hall

Texas A&M transfer Naji Hibbert won't be eligible for Gardner-Webb until 2013-14

Nov. 28

vs. Georgia Tech

Assembly Hall (8 p.m., ESPN2)

Jarrett Jack — a pawn in Deron Williams' recruitment — spent summer with current Jackets

Dec. 4

vs. Western Carolina

Assembly Hall

UI assistant Dustin Ford spent two years on Larry Hunter's staff at Western Carolina

Dec. 8

at Gonzaga

Spokane, Wash.

Freshman Przemek Karnowski, a Polish 7-footer, chose Zags over Cal, Duke, Kansas

Dec. 11

vs. Norfolk State

Assembly Hall

After upset of Mizzou in NCAA tournament, Spartans took basketball tour in Bahamas

Dec. 16

vs. Eastern Kentucky

Assembly Hall

Ibby Djimde, whose 21st birthday is Dec. 15, has twin brothers and four other siblings

Dec. 22

vs. Missouri

St. Louis

Tigers won 30 games with four-guard lineup; now have six players at 6-foot-8 or taller

Dec. 29

vs. Auburn

Chicago

Auburn then returns home to play Florida State — not in a bowl game — on Jan. 2

Jan. 2

at Purdue

West Lafayette, Ind.

Boilers dominant in series with seven straight wins — longest since Brian Cardinal

Jan. 5

vs. Ohio State

Assembly Hall

Same for Thad Matta's Buckeyes, who have won six of past seven in the series

Jan. 9

vs. Minnesota

Assembly Hall

Now-healthy power forward Trevor Mbakwe figures to challenge for All-Big Ten status

Jan. 12

at Wisconsin

Madison, Wis.

Badgers making push to land Centennial standout Michael Finke after extending an offer

Jan. 17

vs. Northwestern

Assembly Hall

Fresh off contract extension, Bill Carmody won't expect dropoff in post-John Shurna era

Jan. 22

at Nebraska

Lincoln, Neb.

Hot-commodity first-year coaches Groce, Tim Miles central figures in carousel rumors

Jan. 27

vs. Michigan

Assembly Hall

Groce hopes his Chicago Bears will be prepping for Feb. 3 Super Bowl in New Orleans

Jan. 31

at Michigan State

East Lansing, Mich.

UI recruiting target Keita Bates-Diop, a 2014 prospect, scheduled to visit Michigan State on Sept. 15

Feb. 3

vs. Wisconsin

Assembly Hall

An interesting study is Mike LaTulip, who's in point-guard rotation, Groce said Tuesday

Feb. 7

vs. Indiana

Assembly Hall

Single plays for Illini: Indiana (home), Penn State (home), Iowa (road), Michigan State (road)

Feb. 10

at Minnesota

Minneapolis

Don't overlook Gophers as dark-horse candidates to compete for top-three spot in Big Ten

Feb. 13

vs. Purdue

Assembly Hall

Purdue coaches felt Italy trip — same as UI's in 2011 — beneficial for team development

Feb. 17

at Northwestern

Evanston

Illinois schedule features between 13 and 15 opponents that played in NCAA tournament

Feb. 21

vs. Penn State

Assembly Hall

Big Ten's youngest head coaches: Groce (40, at least until Sept. 7), Pat Chambers (41)

Feb. 24

at Michigan

Ann Arbor, Mich.

UI staff, Dee Brown getting along swimmingly, numerous conversations in recent weeks

March 2

vs. Nebraska

Assembly Hall

Achievable goal for UI: Be in Greg Gumbel's conversation March 17 — Selection Sunday

March 5

at Iowa

Iowa City

Three-game winning streak at Carver-Hawkeye Arena is longest since early 1960s

March 10

at Ohio State

Columbus, Ohio

Balanced Big Ten schedule means no back-to-back road games until regular season finale

March 14-17

at Big Ten tournament

Chicago

Welcome back! Big Ten showcase returns to United Center after five-year vacation in Indy

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