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Two months from now, 16 high school boys’ basketball teams and their fan bases will descend upon Champaign.

And the iconic State Farm Center will host the boys’ basketball state tournament for the first time in 27 years.

In the immortal words of former Jets linebacker Bart Scott: Can’t wait.

The News-Gazette sports department is ready to roll out the red carpet when it comes to coverage of the state’s premier state tournament and its return to its roots here in Champaign.

Before, during and after the three-day state tournament that’ll take place from March 10-12. In order to do so, we need the help — and have received plenty so far — of all 735 high schools in Illinois who are fielding boys’ basketball teams this winter for a special project that’ll appear in these pages and at our website, news-gazette.com.

The submissions have already started pouring in from schools all across the state, from northwest Illinois (thank you Freeport and Winnebago) to southern Illinois (much appreciated, Murphysboro and Benton) to the Chicago suburbs (kudos West Aurora and Stevenson) to western Illinois (cheers, Quincy and Rock Island) and especially here in east central Illinois (shoutout to Champaign Central, Heritage, Oakwood, Rantoul, Schlarman and Westville, among others).

We’re asking each boys’ basketball program to provide the following: a picture of their current gym, a picture of their current uniform, their school’s all-time leading scorer, their school’s all-time winningest coach and a tie their school has to the University of Illinois.

All submissions can be sent directly to me, with my email and phone number listed below.

The material we’ve received so far is rich with history.

Let’s keep adding to the history. Because there’s nothing like March Madness in Illinois. Especially in Champaign.

Matt Daniels is the sports editor at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at 217-373-7422 or at mdaniels@news-gazette.com.

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