Title doesn't satisfy Poeta

EVANSTON – Illinois' run of titles at the Midlands Championships ended Saturday. But Mike Poeta made sure the Illini didn't leave empty handed.

Poeta upset top-seeded and top-ranked Trent Paulson of Iowa State 9-8 to win the 157-pound title Saturday. He was the lone winner for the three-time defending champs, who placed sixth.

Klee: Let the games begin

A glance around the league in order of how we think the Big Ten will play out this season:

Tate: No bowl, no problem

CHAMPAIGN – Ever since Michigan and the late Bo Schembechler pressured the Big Ten to loosen its strict, one-team bowl policy, it has been assumed that postseason participation is essential for long-term football success.

And that is true in almost all cases.

Illini sixth at Midlands

EVANSTON – Illinois wrestler Mike Poeta (157) remained undefeated and earned a trip to the semifinals of the Midlands Championships on Friday as the Illini finished Day 1 in sixth place as a team.

Jimmy Kennedy (133) and Roger Smith-Bergsrud (165) also reached today's semifinal matches.

Ugly loss leaves Weber steamed

CINCINNATI – As he closed practice earlier this week, Bruce Weber was asked how it went. Good practice? Bad practice?

Weber shook his head and rolled his eyes. No, not a good practice. Not enough healthy bodies, not enough listening ears. Just like most of Illinois' practice sessions this season. Inconsistent, incomplete, and indicative of how the Illini played in a 65-59 loss to Xavier late Friday night before 13,256 fans at U.S. Bank Arena.

Illini report card

Grading the Illini's win over Idaho State:

Fouls put Illinois in a tough spot

CINCINNATI – Until the Illinois basketball team improves its toughness quotient, Shaun Pruitt says, the Illini will be hard-pressed to beat a quality opponent.

The consensus following Illinois' 65-59 loss to Xavier on Friday was that the Illini were hamstrung again by their lack of aggressiveness.

Tate: This one wasn't easy on the eyes

CINCINNATI – This isn't the way to enter the Big Ten basketball sea-son.

Coach Bruce Weber's starting lineup came out flat at the outset of both halves Friday night, and troubled Xavier came alive to defeat uninspired Illinois 65-59 before a reported crowd of 13,256 at the U.S. Bank Arena.

UI men's basketball game preview

Here's a look at tonight's UI men's basketball game against Xavier:

Smith trying to play Head's game

CHAMPAIGN – Some social life. Late on a Wednesday, an ice bag wrapped around his left ankle, Jamar Smith pops in a DVD. One of his favorites.

The film stars Luther Head, a millionaire shooting guard with the Houston Rockets whom Smith calls "my older brother." Some guys want to be like Mike. Not Smith. He wants to be like Lu.