Illinois women's basketball preview | Schedule breakdown

Nov. 4—Biggest game

There's one game Illini fans likely looked for first when the full schedule was released. When would Illinois play Caitlin Clark and defending national runner-up Iowa? Too bad this one on Feb. 25 is at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Still, beating the Hawkeyes two years in a row would be a huge accomplishment considering Illinois hasn't won back-to-back games against Iowa in 20 years. Last season's New Year's Day win by the Illini was a springboard to reaching the NCAA tournament. Repeating that trick in a late-season showdown this time around could jump-start Illinois to big things in March.

Must-win game

The fact the Illini went 1-6 against the teams that finished ahead of them in the Big Ten standings last winter isn't lost on second-year coach Shauna Green. Or her players. Starting out Big Ten play with Michigan on Dec. 10 at State Farm Center feels like a big opportunity for Illinois against an upper-tier Big Ten opponent after the Illini lost 74-57 to the Wolverines last season in the teams' only matchup. Kim Barnes Arico's team will look different in the 2023-24 season after adding grad transfer guard Lauren Hansen from Missouri to combine with returner Laila Phelia in a dynamic backcourt.

Toughest stretch

Big Ten play is a complete grind. That will be evident in late January through early February, with games against Maryland bookending a 22-day, seven-game stretch. The Terrapins have been a thorn in the side for Illinois (0-14 all-time versus Maryland). Terps coach Brenda Frese has fewer established stars on her 2023-24 roster, with junior guard Shyanne Sellers now the No. 1 option in College Park, Md. Even so, two games with Maryland in addition to a home game with Ohio State and road trips to Michigan and Purdue will test whether the Illini can challenge for a top-four league finish.

Joe Vozzelli JR.2023-24 Illinois women's basketball schedule

Date Opponent Time TV/Streaming

Nov. 7 vs. Morehead State 6 p.m. BTN Plus

Nov. 11 at Marquette 2 p.m. FloHoops

Nov. 15 vs. Saint Peter's 11 a.m. BTN Plus

Nov. 18 vs. Notre Dame* Noon NBC

Nov. 26 vs. Canisius 1 p.m. BTN Plus

Nov. 29 vs. Central Connecticut State 6 p.m. BTN Plus

Dec. 6 vs. Northern Kentucky 6 p.m. BTN Plus

Dec. 10 vs. Michigan 2 p.m. BTN Plus

Dec. 17 vs. Missouri 3 p.m. BTN

Dec. 20 vs. Arkansas^ 10 a.m. FloHoops

Dec. 21 vs. UTEP^ 12:15 p.m. FloHoops

Dec. 31 at Indiana 11 a.m. BTN

Jan. 7 vs. Wisconsin 2 p.m. BTN Plus

Jan. 11 at Nebraska 7 p.m. BTN

Jan. 14 at Northwestern 2 p.m. BTN Plus

Jan. 17 vs. Rutgers 6 p.m. BTN Plus

Jan. 20 at Maryland Noon BTN Plus

Jan. 25 vs. Ohio State 6 p.m. Peacock

Jan. 28 vs. Minnesota 2 p.m. BTN Plus

Jan. 31 at Michigan 6 p.m. BTN Plus

Feb. 5 at Purdue 7 p.m. BTN

Feb. 8 vs. Northwestern 6 p.m. BTN Plus

Feb. 11 vs. Maryland 2 p.m. FS1

Feb. 15 at Penn State 5 p.m. BTN Plus

Feb. 19 vs. Indiana 1 p.m. FOX

Feb. 25 at Iowa Noon FS1

Feb. 29 at Michigan State 7 p.m. BTN

March 3 vs. Nebraska 2 p.m. BTN Plus

*At Washington, D.C.

^At West Palm Beach, Fla.