A four-part look back at Monday's Illinois-North Carolina game, courtesy of N-G staffer Tony Bleill:
ST. LOUIS – Roger Powell Jr. had tears in his eyes as he thought back on his senior year and his career at Illinois.
"There's so many things," the forward said. "We cut down the nets three out of four times. There are so many different memories. We've done so much, competed day in and day out.
ST. LOUIS – Really, Monday didn't matter.
Win or lose, the Illinois men's basketball team already had set itself above the previous 99 teams. By a wide margin.
Here's the amazing thing about Illinois' season: Not only did the Illini come within eight points of perfection, they did it without the nation's most talented team. North Carolina – and maybe even Arizona – have more pure NBA-bound talent than the Illini.
So, we know this year's national champion. But who is going to win next year's title? We asked five reporters covering this weekend's tournament. Their responses:
ST. LOUIS – He will have forever for what-ifs, to think about the open shot that didn't go down or the first half that got away.
But sitting there slumped in his locker at the Edward Jones Dome, Deron Williams said he won't.
Greetings once again from St. Louis. I wish you could all be here. Wait a minute, I think you are. On Monday, I ran into plenty of folks from our area. Even bumped into a few of my college buddies, who were stalking Jay Mariotti.
What would a trip to St. Louis be without a trip to the Gateway Arch? Finished in 1965, the 630-foot-tall monument is St. Louis' premier landmark and is quite the tourist attraction.
Jerry Colangelo made sure he wouldn't miss any of the national championship game Monday. The former Illinois basketball player and owner of the Phoenix Suns missed the first five minutes of Saturday's national semifinal at the Edward Jones Dome because he had to wait in line with the rest of the masses.