CHAMPAIGN – Cindy Self noticed a hop in her husband's step Sunday morning.
March must be around the corner.
"We were talking about that today, how this is the funnest time of the year without question," Illinois coach Bill Self said. "At least if you're winning some games and have the NCAAs to point to.
CHAMPAIGN – What for 20 minutes was a thoroughly entertaining, back-and-forth battle between two rivals disintegrated into another ugly second half for the Illini women's basketball team.
The second-half troubles that bedeviled the UI against Kansas, Texas, Michigan and Purdue, among others, reared up again.
CHAMPAIGN – Illinois' first-round Big Ten tournament matchup Thursday night against Northwestern might lack the traditional appeal of a glamour game, but the Illini's postseason hopes rest on its outcome.
Illinois (14-14) must win to become eligible for the Women's NIT, which requires a team to have at least a .500 record.
It was a sweep weekend for the Illinois women's tennis team.
The 26th-ranked Illini, who topped Michigan 5-2 on Saturday, shut out Michigan State 7-0 on Sunday to improve to 7-2, 2-0 Big Ten.
Illinois junior Jason Van Swol made history in the 800 meters Sunday, and senior Babatunde Ridley made it a clean sweep in the 60 at the Big Ten men's track and field championships at State College, Pa.
Van Swol became the first athlete to win three straight Big Ten indoor 800 titles, setting a personal best and a league record of 1 minute, 48.76 seconds and topping Michigan State's Andy Lixey by 0.39 second.
After his incredible expenditure of energy Thursday at Ohio State – a losing effort that might have clinched the Big Ten's MVP trophy – Frank Williams let his troops suffocate the invaders Saturday.
"When we don't need his points, Frank lets others do it," UI coach Bill Self said, "and that's what makes him the best player in the league. He can have a big impact without scoring. He only took three shots today."
Senior Babatunde Ridley is in the Illinois record books twice after qualifying dashes Saturday at the Big Ten indoor track and field championships in State College, Pa.
Ridley tied George McDonald-Ashford's school and meet records with a top qualifying time of 6.74 seconds in the 60-meter dash semifinals.
Josh Whitman is hanging out this weekend in Champaign-Urbana. Illinois coach Ron Turner thinks the tight end should be in Indianapolis.
That's where the NFL is running its annual draft combine. From Thursday to today, the top candidates have been poked and prodded. They've lifted and sprinted. They've talked and tested.
CHAMPAIGN – Illinois' hopes of landing an NCAA tournament bid rely on its ability to win the Big Ten Conference tournament. Those hopes will be altered significantly today.
The results from the final day of regular-season play will determine pairings for next week's event in Grand Rapids, Mich. If things work right for the Illini, they can obtain a first-round bye and avoid having to win four games in four days – something that has not been done is six previous tournaments – to earn the automatic NCAA bid.
CHAMPAIGN – No I's have been dotted. No T's have been crossed. But Ron Guenther is working on it.
In 2002 – and maybe 2003 – the Chicago Bears are expected to play their home games at Illinois' Memorial Stadium. First, the school and the team need to decide the compensation.