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Illinois potential UA foe in event

by Matt Jones | April 22, 2021 at 2:21 a.m.

FAYETTEVILLE -- A four-team field that includes the University of Arkansas was confirmed for the 2021 Hall of Fame Classic on Wednesday.

Arkansas will be joined by Illinois, Kansas State and Cincinnati at the two-day event in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 22-23. Games will be played at Sprint Center, but matchups have not been announced.

The Razorbacks' involvement in the Hall of Fame Classic was learned through an open-records request last April. Arkansas will play two games in Fayetteville between Nov. 9 and Nov. 19, plus the two games in Kansas City as part of the Hall of Fame Classic, according to the event contract.

Games played on Arkansas' campus will not be against any of the other three teams that will join the Razorbacks in Kansas City.

Arkansas has not played any of the three teams since a loss to Illinois in North Little Rock in December 2004. The Razorbacks last played Cincinnati in January 1997 and Kansas State in December 1991.

Arkansas has an all-time record of 0-5 against Illinois, 1-3 against Cincinnati and 3-8 against Kansas State.

Illinois is coming off a renaissance season under fourth-year Coach Brad Underwood, who led the Fighting Illini to a 24-7 record and Big Ten Tournament championship. Illinois was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but was upset by Loyola-Chicago in the second round.

Cincinnati was 12-11 and missed the 2021 NCAA Tournament. John Brannen was fired as the Bearcats' coach after the season amid a university investigation into the program. Cincinnati hired former North Carolina-Greensboro coach Wes Miller to replace Brannen, who had been on the job for two seasons.

Kansas State just had its second consecutive season with a losing record, and its 9-20 record was the program's worst under ninth-year Coach Bruce Weber, the former Illinois coach. Kansas State is three years removed from an Elite Eight appearance, but the Wildcats have not won an NCAA Tournament game since.

Arkansas will play in Kansas City for the first time since 1995, when the Razorbacks defeated Memphis in the Sweet 16 and Virginia in the Elite Eight at Kemper Arena.

The Hall of Fame Classic is hosted by the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, which is located inside Sprint Center. Former Arkansas coaches Nolan Richardson and Eddie Sutton, and former Razorback player Sidney Moncrief have been inducted to the hall.

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