College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).


Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette Illinois' Orange Krush taunts Iowa's head coach, Fran McCaffery as he lets the referee know his feeling on a call in a NCAA basketball game at the State Farm Center in Champaign on Sunday, March 8, 2020.

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Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood’s team:

Episode 159: All is well

The last time State Farm Center was open for Illinois fans they packed the place. A sellout crowd of 15,544 saw the Illini take down Iowa in what turned out to be the team's final game of the 2019-20 season. The COVID-19 pandemic struck stateside in the ensuing week, with the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments canceled.

State Farm Center is set to be open to 100 percent capacity for the 2021-22 season. It could be the perfect confluence of events to generate similar crowds to what was a terrific atmosphere for Illinois-Iowa in March 2020.

The Illini are coming off a 24-7 season that saw them win the Big Ten tournament title and earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Kofi Cockburn is coming back. So are Trent Frazier and Da'Monte Williams. And don't forget about Andre Curbelo. Or a freshman class with three four-star, top 100 caliber recruits. Or a pair of intriguing transfers in Alfonso Plummer and Omar Payne.

There was a buzz around Illinois basketball at the end of the 2019-20 season. Sellouts were becoming the norm again at State Farm Center. A year away for the fan base, with the arena no-go territory, might have served to stoke the fires.

Season tickets and mobile passes are now on sale. Premium seating options — suites, courtside seats, loge boxes, Traditions Club and Legacy Club — are also available. 

Here's what the non-premium options will cost you for season tickets:

» 100 Level — $650

» Sideline — $510

» Baseline — $410

» Upper Baseline — $250

» Fighting Illini Mobile Pass — $199, includes a ticket to each game with seat location determined and emailed to fans 48 hours prior to tip-off. (The Fighting Illini Mobile Pass is not a traditional season ticket therefore does not include an I FUND parking pass or priority points).

Scott Richey covers college basketball for The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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