Hard to please

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The full-color brochure sure looks pretty. Great tradition. A classic arena. The best fans in the Midwest.

But you must read the fine print. Especially the part that states, "Final Four or bust."

Tate: Total package makes UI superior team

INDIANAPOLIS – Michigan''s long-armed athletes outrebounded Illinois 39-29 on Saturday, registered five blocks against the overmatched Illini "bigs" and shot a solid 41 percent from the three-point line.

That''s a prescription for victory if all else is even. But it wasn''t. Not even close. Illinois breezed to a 12th consecutive victory in the Big Ten tournament semifinal, 74-60.

Bleill: For once, there''s room at the top

This year – finally – there is some debate about the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA women''s tournament.

And there''s a very good chance one of the teams howling about the committee''s decisions today will be a Big Ten school.

Asmussen: Tournament has a couple kinks to be ironed out

INDIANAPOLIS – Six years. Five different champions. Six NCAA Final Fours. Two title-game appearances. One national champion.

So is the Big Ten tournament working yet? And does anybody care?

Williams: Up, chucking

INDIANAPOLIS – Deron Williams was making everything he threw up.

Deron Williams was making everything. He threw up.

Either way you punctuate it, that''s Williams'' Friday in a nutshell.

Tate: Tight games becoming too common

INDIANAPOLIS – When it''s over, when they''ve washed it down and the medics have carried off all the bodies, we tend to forget the mess that was.

And all these close basketball games tend to get messy near the end.

UI men''s basketball box score

Illinois 71, Indiana 59

UI still trying to put teams away earlier

INDIANAPOLIS – The winning streak is up to 11 games. A top-four seed in next week''s NCAA tournament seems all but assured.

Illinois coach Bruce Weber is running out of nits to pick.

Former Illini joins Raiders

Linebacker Danny Clark, a former Illini, signed with the Oakland Raiders on Friday.

Clark spent his first four years with Jacksonville, starting nine games last season and 28 in his career.

Illinois rewards Johnson

Mark Johnson has two major goals: He wants to win a national championship, and he wants to finish his career at Illinois.

Johnson, who has coached seven national champions at the school, took a step in that direction Friday, signing a contract extension that will keep him with the Illini through the 2007 season. The new contract will pay Johnson $105,500 annually.