Eighth-ranked Illinois opens the season Wednesday in the first of a self-made smorgasbord designed to prime one of the Big Ten favorites for a primetime matchup with No. 2 Baylor at the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 2. Illinois opens the State Farm Center to North Carolina A&T on Wednesday, Wright State on Thanksgiving and Friday against Ohio. "There's been nothing like it," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said of the process of rebuilding the non-conference schedule for the Fighting Illini.
Illinois’ 2020-21 season begins with a trio of weekday games in its own multi-team event at State Farm Center, starting with a 1 p.m. showdown with North Carolina A&T next Wednesday. That game will be followed by an 11 a.m.
Listed at 7-foot-0 and 210 pounds, Brandon Lieb has the frame to become a solid Big Ten center for the Illinois Fighting Illini to whom he committed on June 25, 2020. That said, the freshman likely has a ways to go before he sees significant playing time for the Illini. Lieb averaged 13.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks during his senior season at Deerfield.