The Daily Illini

A neutral observer’s rooting guide to the Final Four

Oklahoma's Buddy Hield, right, drives to the basket against Oregon's Elgin Cook during the first half in the finals of the NCAA Tournament's West region at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday, March 26, 2016. Oklahoma advanced, 80-68. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

By Dan Escalona

March 29, 2016

Tweet: .Who should you root for in the Final Four? Check out @danescalona77's column to find out.Yet another wild, unpredictable NCAA tournament has produced a Final Four that very few people can claim they predicted. Now, if you are a neutral observer with no strong interest in any of the rema...

Loss to Oregon troubling on multiple levels

Oregon's Elgin Cook dunks the ball against Illinois at United Center in Chicago on Saturday. The loss to Oregon leaves Illinois with no chance for a marquee win in nonconference play.

December 14, 2014

CHICAGO — As I left the United Center following Illinois’ 77-70 loss to Oregon, most Illini fans had the same bewildered look on their faces. This was supposed to be the year the Illini found balance and consistency, where they put away opponents with their superior depth and shooting, where they h...

Illini basketball’s fight not enough against Villanova

Illini basketball’s fight not enough against Villanova

December 10, 2014

As Illinois’ 73-59 defeat at the hands of No. 7 Villanova played out, it became clear that we’ve seen this movie before. The script unfolded in a similar fashion to last week’s loss to Miami. The Illini fell behind by double digits in the first half, then scraped back into the game multiple times, ...

Jimmy V Classic holds special significance for Hill

Jimmy V Classic holds special significance for Hill

December 9, 2014

Every year, the Jimmy V Classic takes on a little extra meaning in the world of sports. Named in honor of legendary college basketball coach Jim Valvano, the Classic raises millions of dollars for cancer research each year. Valvano died of cancer in 1993.  Illinois faces Villanova on Tuesday night at Madison Square ...

Illini basketball looking to bench against Villanova

Illinois' Maverick Morgan attempts a close-range shot during the game against American at State Farm Center on Dec. 6. Morgan scored eight points in 11 minutes, plus four rebounds

By Sean Neumann

December 9, 2014

Leaning over and pulling the base of the microphone up to his mouth, Maverick Morgan looked down and avoided eye-contact while he answered questions. The backup center was timid in his responses at the press conference following Illinois’ 70-55 win over American last Saturday. But if this season’s Illini...

Illinois muscles past American in weekend tune-up

Illinois muscles past American in weekend tune-up

December 6, 2014

In an afternoon that saw ranked teams like Michigan and Miami fall at home in upsets, Illinois basketball avoided that same fate. The No. 24 Illini methodically took care of American University in a 70-55 win Saturday at State Farm Center. What John Groce’s squad lacked in spectacle they made up for wi...

Illinois won’t take American lightly in preparation for Villanova

Illinois' Ahmad Starks looks for an open pass during the game against Brown at State Farm Center on Nov. 24. Starks had a couple of rough shooting nights since the Illini last played in Champaign. 

December 5, 2014

In sports, the definition of a “trap game” is when a lesser opponent lurks on the schedule immediately before playing a big game.  No. 24 Illinois basketball plays American on Saturday. Then, the Illini take on No. 10 Villanova on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden as part of the Jimmy V Classic...

Jalen Brunson commits to Villanova over Illinois

Illinois' head coach John Groce reacts to a referee's call during the first round game of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament against Indiana, at Banker's Life Fieldhouse, on Thursday, Mar. 13, 2014. The Illini won 64-54.

September 11, 2014

Jalen Brunson, widely considered to be the best basketball player in the state of Illinois and one of the best point guards in the country, has committed to Jay Wright and Villanova. Brunson was considering Illinois along with Villanova, but ultimately decided in favor of the Wildcats. He is rated as the...