State of disrepair

The state of Illinois has sent at least one team to thbe NCAA tournament for seven consecutive seasons. That streak could be in jeopardy as only Southern Illinois appears to be a safe bet at this point. A look at the 12 Division I programs and where they sit:

Monticello's Lawhead embraces another position change

CHAMPAIGN – Molly Lawhead has graduated to tougher assignments since joining the Illinois softball team in the fall of 2003.

She was a ballyhooed pitcher at Monticello High School – good enough to earn All-Area Player of the Year accolades – and Lawhead said "there was that slight hope" she'd be in the circle for the Illini.

UI men's basketball game preview

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

Tips to stay safe in winter

Here are suggestions for staying safe in severe winter weather in your car and at home:

Illini not guaranteed bid even with strong mark in conference

CHAMPAIGN – For Bruce Weber's Illini in February, the importance of reaching the 65-team NCAA tournament dwarfs other basketball issues.

Illini basketball insider

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

U of I recruit Thomas picks football over boxing

BERWYN HEIGHTS, Md. – The gloves have been tucked away for a while now. But Ian Thomas still loves boxing.

The problem for Thomas was that he loved football even more. Given a choice between the two, Thomas picked football. The Illinois football coaches are happy he did.

Media blitz

You know The News-Gazette is going to cover your print needs for Wednesday's signing day, including a Thursday special section detailing Ron Zook's third class and how the staff pulled it off. How else can you follow college football's big day? Here are five ideas:

Illini rally falls short

EAST LANSING, Mich. – It's become somewhat of a tradition for the Illinois and Michigan State women's basketball teams to meet on Super Bowl Sunday. Hours before the Bears and Colts squared off in Miami, the Illini and Spartans played on the NFL's marquee date for the third straight year.

There was another streak Illinois wanted no part of entering Sunday's matchup – six straight Spartan victories in this Big Ten series. However, it reached seven as a second-half Illini rally fell short and the No. 23 Spartans prevailed, 80-70.

Depleted Illini up to challenge

URBANA – Another injury forced Illinois women's tennis coach Michelle Dasso to shuffle her lineup again Sunday, but it didn't keep the Illini from rolling past Illinois-Chicago 7-0 at Atkins Tennis Center.

The Illini (2-2) swept the doubles point and won every singles match in straight sets despite the absence of Megan Fudge. The freshman, who has won a team-high 14 singles matches this season, was unable to play because of tendinitis in her left foot.