Illini feel at home in return to dome

INDIANAPOLIS – The last time Jack Ingram was in an RCA Dome locker room, he was in street clothes and had just paid for his own NCAA tournament tickets. Ingram was sitting out after transferring from Tulsa two years ago, so he and his mother watched from the stands as Illinois lost to Notre Dame in the second round.

Ingram was in uniform Wed-nesday and was happy to be out of the seats and on the court.

Mezydlo: Nothing so cliche as the NCAA

INDIANAPOLIS – What is it about the NCAA tournament that brings about the best in players and coaches?

I''m not talking about on the court, but on the news conference stage, in the locker room or in a hallway with a mouthful of popcorn. If there''s a perk to covering college basketball''s greatest three weeks, it''s getting your daily dose of basketball cliches.

Asmussen: Illinois has to be class act

INDIANAPOLIS – You think you have a busy week? No, you don''t.

James Augustine, he''s got a busy week. So does Brian Randle. And Jack Ingram. And Warren Carter.

Hawkeyes doing just fine since loss of Pierce

INDIANAPOLIS – The local paper welcomed him with a "great to see you" story. When he walked onto the RCA Dome court, he received a nice ovation.

Watching him here Wednesday, you never would have guessed that a month ago, Steve Alford was fighting for any tournament berth. And maybe his job.

Perceived slight gives Indiana State edge; Grentz takes exception

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Say one thing for the Missouri Valley Conference wom-en''s basketball teams: They apparently have no fear whatsoever of the Big Ten.

MVC tournament runner-up Indiana State, buoyed by a boisterous crowd of 2,778 at the Hulman Center, pushed aside Illinois 72-60 in a WNIT first-round game Wednesday.

Illini Insider

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Expectations soaring as top-ranked Illini begin pressure-packed trek

INDIANAPOLIS – He hung the picture last season, days after Illinois'' loss to Duke in the NCAA tournament''s Sweet 16.

Bruce Weber wanted a reminder right there in the locker room.

DIetz: Too much to see  and too much to eat

Greetings from Indianapolis. It''s not the most exotic locale, but it''s our home for four days.

The traveling group of Bob Asmussen, Jeff Mezydlo and myself crammed into The News-Gazette''s Corolla and headed east, avoiding the temptation to stop at a White Castle before lunchtime. Later in the day, I''d make up for those missing sliders.

Scouting report on Fairleigh Dickinson

For the real scoop on Fairleigh Dickinson, we talked to Rutgers coach Gary Waters and Buffalo assistant Michael Mennenga, a Rantoul product. Waters'' team pounded the Knights 88-57. It took overtime for Buffalo to edge Fairleigh Dickinson 87-84.

UI women''s basketball box score

Indiana State 72, Illinois 60.