The Rams have added another fun non-conference matchup to their schedule with a neutral court tip against the Illinois Fighting Illini on Dec 3 in Miami, FL. CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein reported the news yesterday but no details have been released as to why the matchup will be taking place in Miami’s American Airlines Arena (home of the Miami Heat).
The Illini add some Big 10 flavor to VCU’s non-conference schedule and another neutral court opportunity against a “Power 5” conference team. The Rams host the ACC’s Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and will compete in a Battle 4 Atlantis field that includes Michigan State, Louisville, LSU and Baylor as well as Wichita State, ODU and the Big East’s St. John’s.
The Illini return the majority of their players from last season’s team that finished a disappointing 15-19. They did however manage to win two Big 10 conference tournament games before seeing their season ended by the Purdue Boilermakers.
John Groce’s squad struggled last season thanks to a lackluster defense that was one of the worst in the Big 10. Offensively they shot the ball from deep well but failed to consistently score inside the arc. They owned two early-season non-conference losses to non-power conference teams in North Florida (who VCU beat) and UT Chattanooga (Will Wade’s former team before taking over at VCU this past season).