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Brad Underwood 01

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood called a home-and-home series with Arizona a "win-win."

CHAMPAIGN — Brad Underwood believes Illinois has the toughest schedule in America this season, but that doesn't mean Underwood has plans to take it easy next year.

Illinois announced a two-year home-and-home series with Arizona beginning Nov. 10, 2019 when Illinois travels to Arizona. The Wildcats will come to the State Farm Center Dec. 12, 2020.

Arizona is 8-6 against Illinois in the all-time series, but the Illini hold the most dramatic win.

That came on March 26, 2005 when Illinois erased a 15-point deficit to beat Arizona 90-89 in the Elite Eight played in Rosemont, Ill.

Arizona has won the last two meetings in 2006 and 2007.

This will mark Illinois' first non-conference home-and-home series with a Power Five program since defeating Vanderbilt in Nashville on Nov. 20, 2008 and winning in Champaign on Dec. 8, 2009.

"Since I came to Illinois in March 2017 I've talked about the importance of playing a great schedule," Underwood said in a press release. "It's a win-win for everyone; these are the types of games that players want to play in, recruits want to be part of, and fans want to watch and attend. Arizona is a tremendous team, and there is a shared history between our two programs that will create quite a bit of excitement as the next two chapters of this series unfold in Tucson and Champaign."

Said Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman: "Arizona is an outstanding addition to the schedule and a series our fans will enjoy. We have many contractual obligations that factor into each basketball season. Working within those parameters, we are putting an emphasis on bringing quality opponents to State Farm Center. This is the type of game that Illini Nation will look forward to all year long, leading to a great homecourt atmosphere for our team."

The programs faced each other often during the last decade, playing a total of seven times during the 2000s, including three times during the 2000-01 season alone, including Arizona's 87-81 win in the 2001 Elite Eight en route to the Final Four.

Champaign, ILL.– As preparations continue for the start of the upcoming college basketball season, the Fighting Illini's future schedules are taking shape as well. Illinois announced Friday that it has signed a 2-year contract with Arizona for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. The Illini will travel west to play in Tucson next season, on Nov. 10, 2019. The Wildcats will then return to Champaign the following year for a Saturday showdown at State Farm Center on Dec. 12, 2020.This will mark Illinois' first non-conference home-and-home series with a Power Five program since defeating Vanderbilt in Nashville on Nov. 20, 2008 and winning in Champaign on Dec. 8, 2009."Since I came to Illinois in March 2017 I've talked about the importance of playing a great schedule," Head Coach Brad Underwood said. "It's a win-win for everyone; these are the types of games that players want to play in, recruits want to be part of, and fans want to watch and attend. Arizona is a tremendous team, and there is a shared history between our two programs that will create quite a bit of excitement as the next two chapters of this series unfold in Tucson and Champaign.""Arizona is an outstanding addition to the schedule and a series our fans will enjoy," Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman said. "We have many contractual obligations that factor into each basketball season. Working within those parameters, we are putting an emphasis on bringing quality opponents to State Farm Center. This is the type of game that Illini Nation will look forward to all year long, leading to a great homecourt atmosphere for our team." Illinois and Arizona have played 14 times, with the Wildcats owning an 8-6 edge in the all-time series. The programs faced each other often during the last decade, playing a total of seven times during the 2000s, including three times during the 2000-01 season alone. The most memorable games in the series were NCAA Elite Eight match-ups where each team felt the thrill of victory and agony of defeat. Arizona outlasted Illinois, 87-81, in the 2001 Midwest Regional Final en route to the Final Four. Just four years later, the winningest Illini squad in school history roared back from a 15-point deficit with four minutes remaining to claim a 90-89 overtime victory in the 2005 Chicago (Rosemont, Ill.) Regional Final and secure a trip to the Final Four

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