Over the past few years, Illinois has built up quite a good basketball program. As you may remember from my post last year, Illinois was the number 2 basketball team in the country and had a ton of superstars on the team. Luckily, even with a couple of those guys leaving, Illinois is shaping up to be a great team once again! And the best part this year is that you can go and see them live on the court. This was my experience going to the Illinois – Rutgers basketball game about a week ago.
If you are coming to Illinois from a bigger city, you may be used to horrible traffic or extremely long commutes to get to sporting events and back. Luckily at Illinois, this is not the case! The State Farm Center where the basketball team plays is within walking distance from a lot of spots on campus, and if you are a little further away, the CUMTD (bus lines) will get you close enough to walk. If you are an incoming student, the 6-pack dorms are some of the closest living you can get to both the Football and Basketball stadiums. If you’re a big Fighting Illini sports fan and think you are going to be attending a lot of games, you can’t live in a better spot on campus.
When it gets colder, it’s still not tough to get to the games. There is a massive surplus of cheap parking in and around the stadium if you or a friend has a car to get you guys there. If none of your friends are lucky enough to have a car, the bus lines will get you super close. If none of those are an option, Ubers tend to be pretty cheap in Champaign as well. I live decently far from the stadium (30 min walk) and I never saw the price for Uber go over 15 dollars. All of the resources in Champaign make it super easy to get around, even to a sporting event.
Student Tickets / Finding your Seat
If you are attending a basketball game, most likely, you will have a student ticket. The student tickets for Illini Basketball games this year cost $125 for the base package. This gets you a guaranteed seat somewhere in the stadium for every Illini home game that isn’t during fall or winter break. If you love going to basketball games, or are an incoming student and even somewhat interested, I would recommend jumping on tickets right when they come out. This year, the tickets sold out in under a few hours, and it can be hard to find someone to buy a ticket off of for individual games.
If you are a die-hard fan, you would maybe consider upgrading your ticket. You can upgrade your ticket through the Orange Krush program by donating money to the foundation or participating in philanthropic events. Different levels of Orange Krush let you into the game earlier, so you can get better seats and a chance to sit in Illinois’ iconic student section. All of the money that is used to upgrade tickets goes to charity, so by trying to get the better seats, you are also being charitable! If you are interested more about the tiers, what they get you, and the student section in general, you can check that out here.
Enjoying the Game
Regardless of when you get there or where you sit, once the game starts you will have the time of your life. Illini games are so much fun to see in person, especially when the team is doing so well. Participating in the chants and reaching for t-shirts from the t-shirt cannon are things that never get old, and were sorely missed during Covid. We waited a long time to get back into stadiums and this is a great way to get back out and have some fun.
It also helps that Illinois’ basketball team is looking great this year once again. Even though we lost players like Ayo to the NBA and Giorgi to the G-league, we have a lot of returning and new players joining the squad. Some players to watch out for are Kofi Cockburn who is an insanely tall Center who scores a ton of points a game, or Alfonso Plummer who is a great long-range shooter. Illinois is not short on talent this year in any position and is so much fun to watch.
Going to a school that is good at sports is something that can make your college experience so much fun. Whether it’s tailgating before a football game on Dad’s weekend or winning a big basketball game against a ranked team at home, sports provide so much excitement and school spirit. I will never forget the celebration after Illinois won the Big Ten Championship last year and I hope we can pull it off again this year. Whether or not you go here or are a prospective student, I really recommend that you come to check out a basketball game. You are guaranteed to have a good time (unless you’re an Iowa fan).