Illini, Northwestern hoops schedule for ESPN, CBS National TV Released

Illini, Northwestern hoops schedule for ESPN, CBS National TV Released

I know it’s hard to think about college basketball when a.) it’s so freakin hot outside and b.) college football appetizers are served tomorrow night, with the main course just two days after that. However, the Big Ten announced its 2013-14 basketball conference schedule, with at least 49 games to be televised by CBS Sports or an ESPN Network. Remaining network assignments will be announced at a later date.

Obviously, this will be highly subject to change, depending on how the teams perform, but if you want to grab your day planner and write down what you want to do in February and March, yes on a Late August afternoon, I won’t stop you.

I’m certainly not expecting you to do that, but I won’t stop you either. Let’s look at where the Illini and Northwestern fit in.

The Big Ten schedule will begin with four games on Tuesday, Dec. 31, including a New Year’s Eve doubleheader on ESPN2 featuring defending Big Ten Tournament Champion Ohio State at Purdue, followed by reigning Big Ten Champion Indiana at the Illini.

During the conference season, the Big Ten will have one game on an ESPN network every Tuesday at 6 or 8 p.m. as part of the network’s Super Tuesday lineup. ESPN or ESPN2 will also carry at least one Big Ten game on Thursday nights throughout the conference season, while ESPNU will air four conference games also to be played on Thursdays.

Notable match-ups during the Super Tuesday slate include Ohio State visiting Michigan State on Jan. 7, Wisconsin traveling to Indiana on Jan. 14 and Michigan hosting the Buckeyes on Feb. 11. Iowa will also appear on the Super Tuesday lineup three times throughout the conference season. ESPN will travel to East Lansing, Mich., for College GameDay on Jan. 25 in advance of the Michigan State-Michigan game.

CBS Sports will carry at least five conference games on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the conference season.

The network’s first Big Ten game of the season will be on Saturday, Jan. 4, when Michigan State visits Indiana. CBS will also carry Iowa at Ohio State (Jan. 12), Michigan at Indiana (Feb. 2), Michigan State at Wisconsin (Feb. 9) and Wisconsin at Michigan (Feb. 16).

The Illini tip off the regular season on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m., hosting Alabama State.

Illinois’ first road trip is at UNLV on Nov. 26 (9:45 p.m., CBS Sports Network). The Illini return to campus to face IPFW on Nov. 29 (7 p.m.) before traveling to Atlanta twice in less than a week, playing at Georgia Tech on Dec. 3 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge (6:15 p.m, ESPN2) and then facing Auburn at Philips Arena on Dec. 8. An Illini road trip to Ohio State on Jan. 23 will be 6 p.m. on ESPN/ESPN2). The Illini make their trip to Michigan State on March 1 (1 p.m., ESPN/ESPN2).

Senior Night at State Farm Center is set for March 4 against Michigan (6 p.m., ESPN).

Northwestern will play five games on the ESPN family of networks during the season. The Wildcats also have a pair of late-season wild card dates with the potential of having those contests televised by CBS. Television designations for nonconference games that have not been previously announced as well as league contests being broadcast by Big Ten Network are being released at a later date.

NU opens up its league slate at home Jan. 2 as it takes on Wisconsin in a matchup on ESPN2. A visit to Iowa Jan. 9 is the first of four Northwestern conference games that are being broadcast by ESPNU. The Wildcats return to Welsh-Ryan Arena Jan. 12 as they take on Illinois in the only regular-season matchup between the teams this season. A third consecutive home game against 2013 NCAA Tournament teams is set for three days later as Michigan State comes to Evanston.

The Wildcats’ first wild card contest is at home against Indiana either Feb. 22 or 23 before Northwestern plays Nebraska at the brand-new Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln March 1. Both contests between the Wildcats and the Cornhuskers in 2014 are being televised by ESPNU.

NU remains on “the U” March 6 as it finally meets up with Penn State on Senior Night at Welsh-Ryan.

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan, he also writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)

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