Florida Atlantic men to face Illinois in Jimmy V Classic at MSG

Fresh off a Final Four run, the Florida Atlantic men’s basketball team will be participating in a marquee non-conference matchup.

The Owls will take part in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden, squaring off against Illinois on Dec. 5, ESPN Events announced Monday. Reigning national champion UConn and 2022 national runner-up North Carolina will also participate as the second part of a doubleheader.

The Jimmy V Classic is an annual college basketball showcase that honors former NC State coach Jim Valvano, who died of cancer in 1993. A women’s classic is also held every year, though participating teams have not been announced.

FAU’s return to Madison Square Garden in New York City should be a welcoming one as it’s the site where the Owls punched their ticket to the Final Four last spring. FAU first upset fourth-seeded Tennessee 62-55 in the Sweet Sixteen, then edged third-seeded Kansas State 79-76 in the Elite Eight.

“Florida Atlantic Basketball is thrilled to be a part of this year’s Jimmy V Classic,” FAU coach Dusty May said in a statement. “We look forward to participating in this event and, most importantly, supporting the V Foundation. For our group, returning to Madison Square Garden will be very special and we’re excited for the opportunity to play a great program like Illinois.”

Both games will air on ESPN, though the game times have yet to be determined. Tickets will go on sale in the fall.

FAU begins a new era as it enters the American Athletic Conference this season. Its new conference opponents have been determined, but the full 2023-24 schedule hasn’t been released.

Other non-conference games include the ESPN Events Invitational, an eight-team tournament in late November at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, and a Dec. 16 matchup versus St. Bonaventure in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts.

FAU is also hosting the inaugural Field of 68 Tip-off Nov. 30-Dec. 2, a new round-robin tournament that begins with the Owls taking on Liberty.