TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State’s men’s basketball team has only played Illinois once in school history.
The game was when Illinois was at the peak of its basketball powers — one year after its 1989 Final Four appearance. The 1989-90 Sycamores were summarily bounced 93-59 in Champaign, Ill.
The Sycamores and Fighting Illini will finally come together again during the 2014-15 season. Only it won’t be in Champaign and it won’t be in Terre Haute either.
It’ll be in Las Vegas.
ISU, Illinois and six other schools comprise the field for the 2013 Las Vegas Invitational. It will take place in November at the Orleans Hotel and Casino. Specific dates have yet to be announced, but the most recent edition of the tournament commenced over Thanksgiving.
After a Vegas trip next season, ISU will continue on its magical mystery tour of college basketball’s exotic sites in 2015-16 when the Sycamores are slated to play in the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The tournament typically takes place in November in the week or weekend before Thanksgiving. The tournament takes place on the island of St. Thomas. Specific dates and participating teams have yet to be determined. Hofstra is the only other known participant.
ISU’s Vegas and Virgin Islands’ trips continue a pattern Lansing established when he became ISU’s head coach in 2010.
Starting with the 2011-12 season, ISU has been committed to playing in multi-team event (MTE) tournaments. The Missouri Valley Conference stresses participation in such events and ISU has eagerly picked up the mantle.
ISU played in the Old Spice Classic at Disney World in Florida in 2011. ISU had a fruitful trip to Hawaii in 2012 when it placed third in the Diamond Head Classic. ISU most recently participated in the Great Alaska Shootout in November.
“When I started out, Doug Elgin [MVC commissioner] wanted every team to be in a MTE. We were only supposed to play a couple of schools with RPI averages over 250. I’ve always wanted to play in the good tournaments,” Lansing said. “We’ve been fortunate that the name Indiana State is something ESPN and tournament directors want.”