Sports editor Jim Rossow''s breakdown of Illinois'' remaining regular season games:
Illinois, like a lot of Big Ten teams, is finished with nonconference play. Here''s what we know about the Big Ten in advance of Wednesday''s league openers, courtesy sports editor Jim Rossow:
CHAMPAIGN – Backcourt? Nope. Frontcourt? No way. Bench? Not a chance.
Homer Drew was struggling to find an advantage – any advantage – in his Valparaiso team''s Sunday meeting with Illinois.
CHAMPAIGN – It''s a tribute to Bruce Weber''s program that it continues to act like a No. 1 team when there''s every excuse not to.
Campus is deserted, TV cameras are turned off and the current stretch of the schedule is hard on both eyes and RPIs. The coach isn''t as concerned with Longwood and Northwestern State as he is with Complacency State and Bored U.
Floyd Keith, executive director of the Black Coaches Association, will wait to evaluate Illinois'' hiring process until after the university submits its report.
His immediate reaction to Ron Zook''s hiring was disappointment.
Sorry about the commotion, Coach. It''s just that a lot of folks are glad to see you. - - You offer football hope, which was last spotted leaving town a few days after the 2002 Sugar Bowl.
We''re told you can recruit, that you''re a bundle of energy and you''re good on water skis. The great news is, if you turn Illinois into a consistent winner, someone might rent you Clinton Lake so you can slalom at your own convenience.
CHAMPAIGN – Ask anyone on the only other Illinois team to knock off No. 1, and they''re quick to admit that what happened in the days after the upset was just as memorable as the day of it.
"We lost," said Rob Judson, a guard on Lou Henson''s 1979 Illini.
CHAMPAIGN – The word is Big Ten basketball is bad.
If you believe what''s been written and said, you''d think most of the league''s players wear dark socks and tight shorts and have trouble dribbling left-handed.
CHAMPAIGN – Dee Brown shuffled the tape recorders at the press podium, lined them up until he had them just so.
Then he picked out one – a sleek black number that looked like an undersized cellphone – and went into his act.
In between bites of steak and ribs at a crowded Texas Roadhouse on Sunday night, Illinois soccer players kept hearing "congratulations" and "good luck" from customers shuffling by their tables.
It was much easier on the ears than what the Illini heard a few hours earlier at Texas A&M''s soccer field.