The Illinois basketball season is still months away, but it is always fun to look at the Big Ten opponents for the upcoming campaign.
Over the past few years, it has been fun watching the Illini play in the Big Ten. Conference play has gone well for the Orange and Blue as we have seen three straight 13+ win Big Ten campaigns. The last time that had happened was…never.
In the middle of this run came a Big Ten Tournament title during the 2020-21 campaign and a Big Ten regular-season title this past season. One could argue that the Illini have dominated the Big Ten for the past three years.
On Thursday, Illinois fans got to see what the road will look like in Big Ten play this season. The Big Ten opponents were announced and, honestly, I think things look favorable.
Illinois basketball got a good Big Ten draw for the 2022-23 season.
- Home and away Big Ten games – Indiana, Wisconsin, Penn State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State
These are the teams that Illinois plays twice next season, one on the road and one at home. The biggest thing that stands out to me about these teams is the fact there are some of the bigger names missing.
Illinois doesn’t have to play Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, and Iowa two times. That is probably the easiest Big Ten schedule I could have asked for. It will be nice to play Northwestern and Penn State on two different occasions. This will help boost our Big Ten record.
- Home Big Ten games – Michigan, Rutgers, Michigan State
Illinois is going to have to play Michigan and Michigan State, obviously, but it is nice that they are home games for the Illini. Those two teams head to Champaign for their only matchup of the regular season.
I also like the fact we get Rutgers at home. I think the Scarlet Knights will be depleted, so hopefully, this is a relatively easy game for the Orange and Blue.
- Away Big Ten games – Purdue, Maryland, Iowa
The toughest test of the year might be on the road against Purdue. The Boilermakers have a pretty good team returning, and now we don’t have a big man like Kofi Cockburn to stop Zach Edey.
Despite that fact, I am good with playing these three teams on the road for our only matchup of the regular season. Both Purdue and Iowa lost their top player to the NBA Draft, and Maryland hasn’t been elite in quite some time.
I think this Big Ten slate is about the nicest we could have received. I am shocked they were this nice to Illinois considering we just won the Big Ten regular season. I expected it to be a rougher road. Let’s do some work and make it back-to-back regular-season champs.