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The Battle For Illinois, a new, four-team competition between SIU, Bradley, Illinois State and Loyola's men's and women's basketball teams, begins early next year. The winner of the competition will receive a trophy.

CARBONDALE — The SIU men's and women's basketball teams will compete with three in-state schools for a trophy and bragging rights in a new rivalry series called the Battle for Illinois, the four institutions announced on Friday.

Bradley, Illinois State and Loyola will compete with the Salukis for the trophy. The inaugural Battle for Illinois competition begins on New Year's Eve, when the Illinois State women's basketball team hosts Bradley. SIU's first contest in the series will be Jan. 9, when the men's team goes to Bradley. The SIU women's basketball team's first contest in the series will be Jan. 12, when it goes to Bradley.

The men's and women's basketball teams for the four universities will accrue points through head-to-head competition. One point will be awarded for each win, and each school can earn up to 12 points. In the event of a tie, the following will determine the Battle for Illinois winner: Head-to-head record of the two or more teams that are tied; overall regular-season record (conference and non-conference); combined tournament wins; and average margin of victory (rivalry series games).

"This new rivalry series adds an exciting new dimension to what are already some of the best rivalries in college basketball," SIU athletic director Tommy Bell said. "Our plan is to bring the hardware home to Carbondale."

Illinois State had the highest finish in men's basketball last season, going a perfect 6-0 against the other Illinois programs on the way to a 17-1 record. The Redbirds shared the Valley's regular-season title with Wichita State. SIU finished third in the league at 9-9, followed by Loyola (8-10, fifth) and Bradley (7-11, tied for sixth).

The SIU women's basketball team had the highest finish out of the Illinois schools last season, fourth place. The Salukis went 16-15 overall and 10-8 in the Valley. Bradley, under first-year coach Andrea Gorski, a former assistant coach under Cindy Stein at SIU, the Braves went 12-19 overall and 7-11 in the MVC (seventh place). Illinois State finished ninth at 4-14 in the Valley, and Loyola was 10th in coach Kate Achter's first season at 1-17. The Ramblers are 2-9 this season going into conference play.


Sports reporter

Todd Hefferman has covered SIU athletics since 2008. A University of Iowa grad, he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and a Heisman Trophy voter.

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