Reason not to call it a season

Wednesday''s loss at Wisconsin ruined the Illini''s chance for a third consecutive Big Ten championship. That doesn''t mean today''s game against Minnesota is short on significance. Bill Self''s team has plenty to play for, like ... SEEDING With a win, Illinois will lock up the No. 2 seed for the Big Ten tournament. That''s a good thing considering two No. 2 seeds have won tournament titles in the five years it''s been played (Michigan State in 2000, Ohio State, right, in ''02). No other seed


Teacher vs. student Rickert (left) shouldn''t just guard Cook today, Dick Vitale says. The Minnesota forward should watch him closely. "I think Rick Rickert could learn a lot from Brian Cook, just by seeing how much staying in school has helped him," Vitale said. "I think there''s a valuable lesson there for him."

Don''t worry, UI women, be happy  you''re in

Until next Sunday, Illinois'' women''s basketball team will be nervously awaiting word whether it''ll be selected to the 64-team NCAA tournament field. The Illini needn''t feel that way. They''re in. So says one (occasionally correct) predictor.

Keeping track

Each week, staff writer Jeff Mezydlo will give us his NASCAR pick to click. So far, he''s 0-3. Things haven''t gone as planned early in the Winston Cup season, but the luck could change today at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Veteran Bill Elliott is starting second and should run up front all day and eventually take the checkered flag  unless Ted Turner has money on somebody else.

Elder Illini get starting nods

CHAMPAIGN  Bill Self wants to let his seniors finish with a start. So when Minnesota visits the Assembly Hall at 1 p.m. Sunday, expect a new lineup filled with older Illini. "I think it''s a nice touch," said Self, who''s always tried to

News-Gazette''s high five

This week''s list: Favorites to win the BigTen tournament in Chicago. 1. ILLINOIS: Homecourt advantage rules 2. MICHIGAN STATE: Never count out Izzo in March 3. WISCONSIN: Think Illini would like a rematch? 4. INDIANA: If not, Mike

Cobras top DACC

BELLEVILLE  Lawrence Connor scored a team-high 17 points and Darryl Baxter 16, leading Parkland College to a 67-62 victory against Danville Area Community College in a Region 24 tournament game Friday at Southwestern Illinois College. Larry

Buccaneers reward Rice

Former Illini Simeon Rice became a rich man Friday, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers became a better team for it. Rice, a Pro Bowl defensive end, agreed to a reported five-year, $41 million contract extension that includes $20 million in

Girls'' Class AA state tournament

At Redbird Arena, Normal Friday''s results Belleville Althoff 63 Centennial 50 Oak Park Fenwick 53 Galesburg 35 Wilmette Reg. Dominican 39 River Forest Trinity 36 Naperville Central 61

Honor system ¬

They''re still celebrating in Madison and still steaming in Champaign. They''re nervous in East Lansing and Minneapolis and just downright confused in State College. The end of another memorable Big Ten season is upon us, so it''s time to reflect