News-Gazette women’s basketball beat writer Jeff Huth’s take on the Illini’s 2013-14 schedule:
It’s difficult to argue with a schedule that includes 14 games against opponents that reached the most recent NCAA tournament. That’s the tally for the Illinois women’s basketball team’s 2013-14 slate. On paper, the strength of schedule certainly is respectable. What Illini fans might find lacking, however, are marquee nonconference home games. Oh, Illinois does play some of the game’s leading programs before plunging into the Big Ten race — Georgia, North Carolina, Colorado. Each, however, is on the road. The lone nonconference home game versus a team from a major conference — or at least the Big East used to be one before all the defections — is Seton Hall. The rest are against teams from midmajor conferences that might be highly successful in their realm but lack the name recognition that spins the turnstiles. As second-year Illini coach Matt Bollant builds his program, this figures to be an item on his to-do list: to create a more attractive home schedule. It’s not always easy — and could get even tougher as Illinois improves, as it’s expected to do under the former Wisconsin-Green Bay coach — but that’s what home-and-away contracts are for. The same type of contracts that have the Illini returning visits this season to Georgia and Colorado.