Asmussen: Heavy load not a grind for Raftery

My favorite college basketball analyst spent time at Seton Hall, has an East Coast accent and can easily be identified by his signature phrase.

Dick Vitale?

Maybe a while back, but not now.

Tonight, the best in the business will be at the Assembly Hall, calling Illinois-Ohio State: ESPN and CBS announcer Bill Raftery.

Illinois women''s basketball boxscore

Illini 80, Badgers 74

Final football poll puts UI 24th

CHAMPAIGN – One week after the piling up the second most points in bowl history, the Illinois football team scored another win Wednesday morning.

The final Associated Press poll listed Illinois at No. 24, one of seven ranked Big Ten teams. The coaches poll had the Illini at No. 25.

Catchings shows the way

MADISON, Wis. – Tauja Catchings on Tuesday played in her 26th regular season Big Ten road game.

That's more than the other four Illini women's basketball starters combined. So if anyone figured to be the leader when the UI's ship was shaken in the second half of a six-point victory at Wisconsin, Catchings was the one.

Illinois goes the distance

MADISON, Wis. – Maybe it was because Wisconsin got hot. Perhaps the Illini women wanted a national TV audience to stick around for a few more minutes. More likely, it was just a picture of life in the Big Ten.

Strange? Unexpected? Say hello to conference play, where Tuesday the losers actually walked out as happy as the winners.

Ohio State has something to prove after Final Four

COLUMBUS, Ohio – If Ohio State's 13th-ranked Buckeyes hope to make it back to the Final Four in a few months, the first thing they're going to need is a catchy nickname.

Something like Phi Slama Jama (Houston). Or the Doctors of Dunk (Louisville). Or 40 Minutes of Hell (Arkansas).

Tate: Illini get early look at future

Mentally, at least, Illini basketball recruiting jumped a year with the announcements that the state's top-rated seniors are headed elsewhere: East St. Louis' Darius Miles to St. John's (if he qualifies), Leo's Andre Brown and King's somewhat overrated Imari Sawyer to DePaul, and Homewood-Flossmoor's T.J. Cummings to UCLA.

College kings

For the second consecutive year, Big Ten football teams won five bowl games, the best two-year run in conference history. Going into tonight's Sugar Bowl between Florida State (ACC) and Virginia Tech (Big East), here is how staff writer Bob Asmussen rates the leagues' postseason performances:

Final resting place

News-Gazette staff writer Bob Asmussen predicts Illinois will finish 24th in the final Associated Press Top 25, which will be announced early Wednesday morning. Here's how the Illini made the jump:

UI women lose another player to injury

CHAMPAIGN – Add Dawn Vana's name to the ever-expanding list of Illinois injuries.

Vana suffered stretched ligaments in her left (shooting) thumb during a double session of practices New Year's Eve and likely will miss games against Wisconsin (Tuesday), Iowa (Friday) and Indiana (Sunday).