Talk is cheap with Final Four berth on the line

SAN ANTONIO – Trying to separate fact from fiction at the Midwest Regional is trickier than guarding Frank Williams. The innuendo is as thick as some of the burritos in town.

Lucas Johnson is either a raving maniac who belongs in the XFL or a good kid from Des Plaines who gives it his all. Arizona is either soft as elevator music or silky smooth like college basketball should be. The Big Ten either encourages its players to swing elbows or goes by the rules set by the NCAA. Bill Self is either a master motivator or someone who lucked into a winning lottery ticket.

It all depends whom you ask.

Spartans, wind sweep Illinois

CHAMPAIGN – It was a chilling experience in more ways than one for Illinois' baseball team.

After battling Michigan State for close to six hours at frigid, windswept Illinois Field, all the Illini had to show for it Saturday were two disconcerting defeats.

Oka paces UI gymnasts

Senior Leo Oka took second on the pommel horse with a 9.125 as Illinois' men's gymnastics team closed out the Big Ten Championships event finals Saturday with five place-winners in State College, Pa.

Arizona vs. Illinois preview

Game time is 4 p.m.

Tate: Illini earn reputation as bad boys

"We in the West are perceived as soft. We'll probably be frightened to death and back off Sunday. But, remember, three of those soft Pac-10 teams made the NCAA's Elite Eight."

– Lute "Tongue in Cheek" Olson

SAN ANTONIO – If this was a beauty contest, hand the prize to Lute's hair and Arizona's pedigree.

Guenther following Illin basketball team closely

SAN ANTONIO – His playing days ended in junior high, his jump shot isn't the prettiest to watch and he's more familiar with off-tackle dives than pick-and-rolls. But there's no bigger basketball fan these days than Illinois athletic director Ron Guenther, who is in San Antonio today and hopes to be in Minneapolis next weekend.

News-Gazette sports editor Jim Rossow spent a few minutes with the 1966 Illinois football MVP at the Alamodome, where the Illini play Arizona today for a trip to the Final Four:

Coaches' wives watch, worry with other Illini fans

SAN ANTONIO – They won't score a point, throw a pass or make a call.

But during today's Illinois-Arizona basketball game, Cindy Self, Pascale Roberts and Kim Judson will agonize just like they are the ones on the court.

Illini receiver happy as can be to practice again

CHAMPAIGN – Brandon Lloyd, as ebullient as they come, seems to have a certain effect on people.

Take Ron Turner, for instance.

"It brings a smile to my face when you mention his name," the Illinois football coach said Saturday.

Asmussen: I''m waxing poetic about the Alamo

   Finally, like Santa Anna 165 years ago, I have seen the Alamo.

   Unlike Santa Anna, I got lost on the way.

Players glad to see other Big Ten teams shining in tournament

SAN ANTONIO – Nate Mast caught a couple of scoring updates during Illinois' game Friday night. Sean Harrington waited to watch highlights.

One way or another, the Illini have tried to keep tabs on their Big Ten brethren throughout the NCAA tournament.