Jim Rossow

Jim Rossow

March Memories: Take that, Kansas

llinois is on the brink of reaching college basketball's promised land after a harder-than-it-looked 80-64 win against Kansas in Friday's late-night Midwest Regional semifinal. When they wake up today — noon seemed to be the players' desire — maybe it will sink in that only Arizona stands in the way of a trip to the Twin Cities.

"Do I feel anything special?" Sergio McClain said. "Not yet. There's too much work to be done."

March Memories: Arizona ends Final Four dream in '01

The Big Ten co-champions lost 87-81 to Lute Olson's motivated Arizona squad, in the process losing a chance to match the Flyin' Illini's feat of 1989.

"If next year we come up short again, I'm going to be real sick," junior Damir Krupalija said. "We have a lot of people coming back. Right now, everybody's sad. But deep down, we're excited about our opportunities next year."

10 questions for ... Deon Thomas

The Illini's all-time leading scorer was back in town last weekend to have his jersey raised to the rafters of the Assembly Hall. He'd like to return in a different role – as a college basketball coach. The 38-year-old family man, who retired from pro basketball last June after 14 years overseas, talked to sports editor Jim Rossow about Bruce Pearl, Bob Knight and Lou Henson.

Jim Rossow's Big Ten basketball report

Sports editor Jim Rossow takes you around the Big Ten Conference:

Chat with Bleill in Indy

HQ women's basketball beat writer Tony Bleill is courtside at Conseco. He'll take your questions at 4 p.m. Friday ahead of the UI's game against Ohio State at 5. Submit them now.

March Memories

"Our goal is not to get to the Sweet 16," UI coach Bill Self said. "But it's a relief that we are there. It's a measuring stick."

One that's been out of reach for too long, the UI suffering four second-round setbacks since its trip to the Final Four. If this season's team with its Big Ten championship, its Big Ten Player of the Year, its high RPI, its No. 1 seed and its tournament-proven coach didn't make it, shock might have set in for a fan base on the edge.

5 O'Clock Shadow

News you can't leave work without:

Daughters of former Illini playing like their dads on the basketball court.

Q&A: Seth Davis

The Sports Illustrated writer and CBS analyst has a book due out Tuesday: "When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball." It tells the story of Michigan State's landmark victory against Indiana State in the 1979 NCAA tournament title game. Sports editor JIM ROSSOW tracked down the Duke grad for his thoughts on Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, his reaction to criticism from Illinois fans about his AP Top 25 ballot and his take on the Big Ten's rugged brand of basketball.

Jim Rossow's Big Ten report

Jim Rossow's weekly look around the world of Big Ten basketball.

5 O'Clock Shadow

News you can't leave work without:

Seth Davis explains why he put Illinois in his Top 25.