We know what Champaign-Urbana thinks of Illinois'' chances at the Final Four. But what''s the national outlook? We asked voters in The Associated Press 25 for their picks to click in St. Louis. Some responses:
ST. LOUIS – In the last two years, the NBA took LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and a grand total of 60 college and high school players possessing unused NCAA eligibility.
And already, on the eve of the Final Four, we see Utah''s Andrew Bogut, Arizona State''s Ike Diogu, Connecticut''s Charlie Villanueva and a couple George Washington athletes igniting another youthful flood into the pro circuit.
If you haven''t been to a Final Four, put it on your list of priority sporting events to attend (this is my second Final Four, so Wimbledon tops my list).
We caught up to former Illinois basketball players and coaches for their thoughts on the Final Four Illini:
PARK RIDGE – A total of 36 Illinois athletes in six winter sports were named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team, the conference announced Thursday.
Kenny Battle has seen the game film so often he can tell you when the timeouts are coming.
"A few thousand times," the former Illini said of the 1989 Final Four semifinal defeat against Michigan at the Seattle Kingdome.
Forgot to set the timer on the VCR? Haven''t been willing to pony up for TiVo?
Russ Hamilton''s got your back.
I was the first player in Illinois basketball history to lead the team in scoring for three consecutive seasons, averaging 6.5, 5.8 and 7.9 points a game in 1925, ''26 and ''27, respectively. I followed Ray Woods and Chuck Carney as the third UI player to twice be honored as an All-Big Ten first-team selection. I started at forward for Coach Craig Ruby and served as his captain in 1927. I''m one of Streator''s greatest prep players.
Since Sunday, Bruce Weber has been picking brains.
He has called, it seems, every coach he knows who''s ever been to the Final Four, asking about hotels and tickets and how long a leash to give his players.