Rossow: Is Illinois tourney worthy?

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Now seems like a good time to pop the question.

Not "Who monkeyed with Greg Oden's birth certificate?" We'll dig into that at Saturday's game.

Illini play has Weber 'scared'

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – It's been a while since Illinois has drifted into a low point this low. After a 71-61 loss to Michigan, coach Bruce Weber had to think back a few seasons.

"What were we my first year, when everybody wanted my butt?" Weber asked.

Looking ahead

Each Wednesday, The News-Gazette's Troy Gentle will provide updates of Bruce Weber's incoming recruits:

Wanted: Someone to take charge

CHAMPAIGN – Brian Randle heard what Bruce Weber said. So did Warren Carter, Chester Frazier, Jamar Smith and the rest of the Illini.

"I need somebody, when I say something, and guys mumble and question it, I need somebody to say, 'Shut up, listen to Coach,' " Weber said after a 65-59 loss to Xavier on Friday. "Right now I don't have that."

My, how times have changed

Ten years ago today, Michigan basketball still was relevant. CBS, recruits and the NCAA selection committee paid attention to the Wolverines. Not anymore.

UI men's basketball game preview

Here's a look at tonight's Illinois men's basketball game at Michigan:

Tate: As Big Ten gets under way, Michigan looking for a boost

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A year ago, Tommy Amaker was one of four annual Illini coaching rivals widely perceived as "under the gun."

The other three are gone. Quin Snyder received a messy firing at Missouri. Mike Davis, who led Indiana to the Final Four in 2002, pleased unhappy Hoosiers by moving to Alabama-Birmingham. Dan Monson, who ignited Gonzaga's remarkable run, was unceremoniously dumped at Minnesota early this season.

Bob's random thoughts

Bob Asmussen, who covers college football for The News-Gazette, still is giddy after watching Monday's Fiesta Bowl. His thoughts as the bowl season winds to a close:

Illinois to turn off Sheppard's mic

CHAMPAIGN – Jim Sheppard, the longtime public address announcer for Illinois men's basketball games, will not return next season.

Sheppard said he was told by Division of Intercollegiate Athletic officials he will be replaced after the 2006-07 season, his 22nd behind the mic. Sheppard, 58, said he's been told he will call football games in the fall.

College basketball insider

News-Gazette beat writer Paul Klee's weekly look at the best game in the world: