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With a 10-3 record and four teams advancing to the Sweet 16, how did the Big Ten’s start to the NCAA tourney compare to the best in NCAA history? That’s a great question, and BTN.com turned to its resident statistician, Chris Antonacci, for the answer. See the numbers in this post.
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Shane Larkin hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with a minute left and Miami kept possession on a ball knocked out of bounds that probably should have gone to Illinois, helping the Hurricanes hold on for a 63-59 victory Sunday night to advance to the NCAA round of 16.
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Yes, I realize Sunday features four games involving Big Ten teams. And yes, I realize the Big Ten could go 0-4. It isn’t likely, but it could happen. Regardless, it’s impossible to ignore what the Big Ten has done through the first three days of the Big Dance.
It was defense that boosted Illinois to victory on this day. Illinois was especially stingy in the first half, which it allowed only 21 points and closed the final 7:05 of the half on a 13-0 run to take a 37-21 halftime edge. And the Illini showed an ability to withstand adversity in the second half, squandering a 16-point halftime lead and falling behind 44-39 with 9:00 left. But Illinois stayed composed and regained the lead, finishing the game on an 18-5 run.
Don’t miss the BTN Big 10K event in Chicago on Saturday, July 27, and this year’s race will be televised on the Big Ten Network. Dress up in your favorite school colors and compete for your Big Ten team in the 10K race or 5K run/walk, and there will be a post-race FanFest & Tailgate party, too. Get more details here.
Illinois has been doing it the hard way all season. Why change just because it’s the NCAA tournament? After letting a big first-half lead slip away Friday, senior guards Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson bailed out the Illini with consecutive 3-pointers with 6 minutes to play and No. 7 seed Illinois pulled out a tough 57-49 win over No. 10 Colorado in the second round of East Regional of the NCAA tournament.
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It’s time to reach into my mailbag and answer your pressing questions. Lots of good questions this week, as usual. Yes, spring football is heating up. But with March Madness here, hoops are on your mind. So, let’s start there.