UConn-North Carolina, FAU-Illinois to meet in Jimmy V Classic

Bilas: Dan Hurley has proved to be an outstanding coach (0:42)

Seth Greenberg and Jay Bilas discuss the positives of Dan Hurley's new deal with UConn. (0:42)

Reigning national champion UConn will take on North Carolina in this season's Jimmy V Classic, with Final Four participant Florida Atlantic battling Illinois in the other matchup.

The two matchups for the 29th annual doubleheader were announced Monday and will take place on Dec. 5 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Both games will air on ESPN.

Three of the four teams are ranked in ESPN's most recent Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25, with UConn slotting in at No. 5, FAU ranked No. 9 and North Carolina at No. 15. All three teams have made Final Four runs within the past two NCAA tournaments.

UConn returns two starters and breakout candidate Donovan Clingan from the team that dominated all six opponents in the NCAA tournament en route to the national championship, winning every game by at least 13 points. The Huskies also welcome impact transfer Cam Spencer from Rutgers and a top-three recruiting class that features five-star prospect Stephon Castle.

"It's an honor to be invited to participate in the Jimmy V Classic to help raise funds for such a worthwhile cause that hits close to home for my wife Andrea and me, with the loss of her father to this dreaded disease," UConn coach Dan Hurley said. "I know our team and our UConn fan base are thrilled to be coming to Madison Square Garden to compete against one of the most storied programs in college basketball. We are very much looking forward to Dec. 5."

North Carolina is looking to bounce back from its historically disappointing 2022-23 season, when the Tar Heels opened the season ranked No. 1 and missed the NCAA tournament. Armando Bacot and R.J. Davis are back to anchor the lineup, while top-10 recruit Elliot Cadeau and five transfers will look to make an immediate impact.

Florida Atlantic welcomes back all five starters from last season's stunning run to the Final Four. Dusty May's team will be led by Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin, and the Owls will be out to prove their 35-4 record last season was no fluke.

"Florida Atlantic basketball is thrilled to be a part of this year's Jimmy V Classic," May said. "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."

Illinois received a big boost when Terrence Shannon Jr. and Coleman Hawkins opted to return to Champaign instead of turning pro, and Brad Underwood went into the transfer portal to land the likes of Quincy Guerrier (Oregon) and Marcus Domask (Southern Illinois).

Last year's Jimmy V Classic saw Illinois beat Texas in overtime and Duke take down Iowa, 74-62. The event has been held at Madison Square Garden every year since 2003, with the exception of the COVID-impacted 2020-21 season.

Named for legendary coach Jim Valvano, the Jimmy V Classic annually raises money and awareness for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. To date, ESPN has helped raise more than $200 million for the V Foundation. Last year set a record, with 2022's V Week raising $14.4 million.

The matchups for the women's Jimmy V Classic, which started in 2002, will be announced at a later date.