UIC releases hoop schedule

The University of Illinois-Chicago 2008-09 men’s basketball scheduled was unveiled last week and will feature the Flames’ first-ever home game against DePaul and road contests against Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech, among the many notable dates o

The University of Illinois-Chicago 2008-09 men’s basketball scheduled was unveiled last week and will feature the Flames’ first-ever home game against DePaul and road contests against Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech, among the many notable dates on the 29-game slate.

“We always aim to give our student athletes the best experiences possible, and that includes playing some of the country’s best programs,” said UIC head coach Jimmy Collins. “This year’s schedule, from beginning to end, provides the challenges that will only strengthen our team come March.”

Teams from the ACC, BIG EAST, SEC, Missouri Valley and Mid-American conferences and an 18-game Horizon League docket await UIC this season.

The regular season begins for the Flames on Nov. 15, as UIC travels to Peoria to take on Bradley at Carver Arena at 7 p.m.

UIC plays the first of its 14 home games on Wednesday, Nov. 19, when the Flames host Northern Iowa at the UIC Pavilion at 7 p.m.

Three days later, the Flames will face DePaul at the UIC Pavilion for the first time ever on Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. UIC defeated the Blue Demons, 85-80, last December at Allstate Arena for the Flames’ first victory over DePaul.

The DePaul game on UIC’s court is 27 years in the making. The two teams were scheduled to open UIC’s brand-new Pavilion in 1981, but a two-month operating engineers strike that year halted construction on the building and forced the game to be moved to the Rosemont Horizon (now Allstate Arena).

A trip to the nation’s capital follows the DePaul contest, as UIC heads to Washington, D.C. to face Howard on Nov. 25. The Flames return home to host Central Michigan on Nov. 29 before hitting the road once again to tangle with Southeastern Conference power Vanderbilt at historic Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, Tenn. on Dec. 3.

The Vanderbilt game leads into the Flames’ Horizon League opener against crosstown foe Loyola at the Pavilion on Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.

On Dec. 14, the Flames will journey to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech at the Yellow Jackets’ famed Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

After a home game against Lewis on Dec. 17, UIC will tangle with instate rival Illinois State at Redbird Arena on Dec. 20. The Flames will encounter a familiar face the following Tuesday during the first of four regular-season games in Ohio, as former UIC assistant coach and first-year Toledo head coach Gene Cross will lead his new Rockets team against the Flames at the renovated Savage Arena on Dec. 23.

The Flames will have a week off before diving into the rest of the Horizon League schedule, beginning with a Dec. 30 home game against Milwaukee to round out the calendar year.

Home contests in January have visits from Green Bay (Jan. 3), Valparaiso (Jan. 15) and defending Horizon League champion Butler (Jan. 17), but UIC will spend most of that month away from the Pavilion. The Flames will play six league road games, including four in a row, in January.

February is much kinder to the Flames, who play five of their final eight regular season contests at home. The home slate wraps up with an ESPNU BracketBusters game on Feb. 21, and the regular season finishes in Rogers Park against Loyola on Feb. 27.

The 2009 Horizon League Men’s Basketball Championship begins with opening round games on Mar. 3. The quarterfinals take place on Mar. 6, followed by the semifinals on Mar. 7. The championship game will be played on Tuesday, Mar. 10 at 8 p.m. Central and will be aired live on ESPN.

Three starters are back for the Flames in 2008-09, including the Horizon League’s top returning scorer in senior guard Josh Mayo, the league’s top rebounder and shotblocker in senior center Scott VanderMeer and junior point guard Spencer Stewart.

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