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ISU Madison Williams

Illinois State's Madison Williams streaks down the court against New Mexico during last season's Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge Series game at Redbird Arena. Williams and the Redbirds will play at Nevada in this year's Challenge Series on Nov. 29.

The Illinois State basketball team will play at NCAA Tournament qualifier Nevada on Nov. 29 as part of the Challenge Series between the Missouri Valley and Mountain West conferences, the Missouri Valley office announced Wednesday.

The game will be at Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev. Time of the contest has yet to be determined.

Led by third-year head coach Eric Musselman, Nevada won the Mountain West regular season and tournament titles in 2016-17. The Wolf Pack went 28-7 to tie for the second-most wins in program history. Nevada lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

ISU also finished 28-7, posting the most wins in school history. The Redbirds shared the Missouri Valley regular-season title with Wichita State and advanced to the second round of the National Invitation Tournament. 

The Wolf Pack return three starters and seven letterwinners led by junior forward Cameron Oliver, who earned first-team honors from the Mountain West media and second-team from the conference coaches. Also back is junior Jordan Caroline, a second-team pick of the media and coaches. The game will be the first between the two schools.

The Challenge Series features head-to-head competition between 10 Mountain West and 10 Missouri Valley teams annually, with each league hosting five games. The 10 games in the 2017 Challenge Series will take place in a six-day span in late November and early December. The Challenge Series agreement is in the third year of a four-year term.

In 2016, the Mountain West and Missouri Valley split the 10-game series, 5-5, with Illinois State winning 79-74 over New Mexico at Redbird Arena. The MW has an all-time series edge of 3-1-2 in six previous Challenge seasons.

This year's other Challenge Series matchups are Loyola at Boise State, Utah State at Valparaiso, Colorado State at Missouri State, UNLV at Northern Iowa, Air Fore at Indiana State, Evansvile at New Mexico, San Jose State at Southern Illinois, Drake at Wyoming and Bradley at San Diego State.

Annual matchups are based upon factors including the previous year’s achievements, records and RPI rankings, as well as projected rankings/strength of teams in the upcoming season, based on composite sources.

Television rights for each Challenge Series contest will be controlled by the home team’s conference television agreement, which will dictate the distribution of the game and all related matters, including tip times.

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Sports Editor

Sports editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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