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ESPN announces ACC/Big Ten Challenge Pairings

ESPN released the pairings for the 2012 ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Monday afternoon. The Big Ten has won the past three events, including a resounding 8-4 victory last season, this after losing each of the first 10 years. The 12-game Challenge will be played Nov. 27-28 this season. Check out all the matchups, get your Challenge history and see BTN.com Brent Yarina’s predictions in this post.

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Illini Add 2nd Transfer in McLaurin

Illinois officially announced Friday that Coastal Carolina’s Sam McLaurin will transfer to Illinois for his final season, and he will be eligible to compete immediately during the 2012-13 season under the NCAA one-time transfer exception.  The 6-8, 230-pound forward started all 31 games for the Chanticleers last season, averaging 10.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks while shooting 65.2 percent from the field. See his full player stats page here. McLaurin is the second announced transfer for new Illini coach John Groce as he added Rayvonte Rice from Drake earlier this month.

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Super-early 2012-13 Big Ten Hoops Predictions

Michigan's Trey Burke

The Journey 2012: Cody Zeller Reflects on Kentucky Win

The deadline for college basketball players to decide whether they’re coming back to school or entering the 2012 NBA Draft was Tuesday. Here’s what we know: Meyers Leonard and Jared Sullinger are gone, while Trey Burke, Deshaun Thomas and Christian Watford are back after testing the NBA waters. A lot of things will change before the season tips in November, but BTN.com’s Brent Yarina offers some super-early 2012-13 predictions. See all of them in this post.

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Weber thanks Illini Nation with full-page ad

Former Illinois coach Bruce Weber took out a full-page ad in the Champaign News Gazette on Sunday to thank Illini Nation. The ad reads: “Thanks to everyone in the Illini Nation for a memorable nine years.” It goes on to say: “Go Illini! & Go Cats! Coach Bruce Weber.” The ad features the Illinois and Kansas State logos, separated by a basketball that houses Weber’s aforementioned message. Weber was fired March 9 (story), one day after the Illini were eliminated from the Big Ten tournament, and hired at Kansas State on March 31 (story).

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Stay or Go? Past Big Ten early NBA draft entrants

Illinois’ Meyers Leonard declared for the NBA draft Monday (story), and on Wednesday, it was Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger’s turn (story). With Leonard and Sullinger, both sophomores, leaving early and the deadlines to declare for the draft approaching (April 10, NCAA; April 29, NBA), BTN.com’s Brent Yarina considers some of the previous Big Ten sophomores – plus freshmen – who have left early since the new millennium. How did the decisions work out? Find out in this post.

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