Now we know why the Illini will play a non-conference game against VCU in Miami.
Illinois and VCU will square off at AmericanAirlines Arena — home of the NBA's Miami Heat — as part of the Hoophall Miami Invitational, a non-conference preseason event sponsored by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Illini and Rams will do battle on Dec. 3 as part of a doubleheader, with the second game featuring Miami and Wofford. A week later, the event will continue with bouts between Georgetown and La Salle and Temple and DePaul.
"Facing an outstanding opponent like VCU in a terrific setting at AmericanAirlines Arena is an exciting challenge for our team and strong addition to our non-conference schedule," Illinois head coach John Groce said in the event's announcement. "We are honored to partner with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and participate in the Hoophall Miami Invitational."
The matchup between Illinois and VCU was reported last month. The two teams have never played each other in men's basketball. The Rams have been one of the more consistently good mid-major programs in recent years, playing in each of the last six NCAA tournaments and reaching the Final Four in 2011.