CHAMPAIGN — Announcements of schedule changes in the 2020-21 college basketball season have taken on a fairly negative connotation. Like earlier this week when Illinois' game originally set for Wednesday at Nebraska was postponed because of positive COVID-19 cases in the Cornhuskers' program.
The most recent schedule change was less ominous. Instead of hosting Penn State next Wednesday at State Farm Center, Illinois will instead play the Nittany Lions at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Penn State has not played since a Dec. 30 loss at Indiana. The Nittany Lions (3-4, 0-3 Big Ten) have been in a COVID-19 pause in the new year, with games against Ohio State on Jan. 6, Michigan on Jan. 9 postponed and Rutgers on Jan. 12 postponed.
The game against Rutgers has been rescheduled for Jan. 21, which pushes the Illinois game up a day. It was one of six games rescheduled or moved by the Big Ten on Wednesday.
Penn State will play for the first time in the year on Sunday at Purdue before playing Illinois now Tuesday. The No. 14 Illini (9-4, 5-2) have had two games this season altered because of COVID-19 issues for their opponents, with a nonconference game against UT Martin canceled to go with this week's Nebraska postponement.
Illinois will play No. 21 Ohio State at 11 a.m. Saturday. That gives the Illini a shorter turnaround before playing Penn State albeit a day longer than the Nittany Lions will have after their Sunday return to action.