August 21, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Michigan men's basketball team opens Big Ten schedule vs. Illini on Dec. 30

Caris LeVert and the Wolverines add Maryland and Rutgers to their Big Ten schedule. (Steve Perez / The Detroit News)

For the first time since 1986, Michigan enters a season as the Big Tenís outright defending champion.

The Wolverines open the conference schedule on Dec. 30, hosting Illinois, as the Big Ten schedule was released Thursday.

With Rutgers and Maryland joining the conference this season, the schedule expands to eight single-play games (four home and four away) and five home-and-home matchups within the conference.

UM gets its first conference matchup at Rutgers on Jan 20 and travels to Maryland on Feb. 28.

The two marquee matchups against rival Michigan State are Feb. 1 (at MSU) and Feb. 17 (at Crisler Center).

The nonconference schedule had been released previously and includes games Oregon in the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center in New York on Nov. 24. If UM wins, it could face either VCU or Villanova in the championship game.

Michigan faces Syracuse in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 2.

Michigan men's basketball schedule

Nov. 10 vs. Wayne State (exhibition)

Nov. 15 vs. Hillsdale College

Nov. 17 vs. Bucknell (Legends Classic)

Nov. 20 vs. Detroit (Legends Classic)

Nov. 24 vs. Oregon (Legends Classic, Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Nov. 25 vs. VCU or Villanova (Legends Classic, Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Nov. 29 vs. Nicholls State

Dec. 2 vs. Syracuse (Big Ten/ACC Challenge)

Dec. 6 vs. NJIT

Dec. 9 vs. Eastern Michigan

Dec. 13 at Arizona

Dec. 20 vs. SMU

Dec. 22 vs. Coppin State

Dec. 30 vs. Illinois

Jan. 3 at Purdue

Jan. 6 at Penn State

Jan. 10 vs. Minnesota

Jan. 13 at Ohio State

Jan. 17 vs. Northwestern

Jan. 20 at Rutgers

Jan. 24 vs. Wisconsin

Jan. 27 vs. Nebraska

Feb. 1 at Michigan State

Feb. 5 vs. Iowa

Feb. 8 at Indiana

Feb. 12 at Illinois

Feb. 17 vs. Michigan State

Feb. 22 vs. Ohio State

Feb. 28 at Maryland

March 3 at Northwestern

March 7 vs. Rutgers

March 11-15 at Big Ten Tournament (Chicago)

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter.com/detnewsRodBeard