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Tourney still could become Illini fright fest
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 3/17/2008 12:06 AM

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Now that Illinois' basketball dream has ended, it's time to consider the potential nightmare.

Unless, that is, you considered the Fighting Illini run in the Big Ten tournament the nightmare.

That's what it seemed like to me. I mean, if I see Shaun Pruitt and Brian Randle in my next lifetime, it'll be too soon.

Regardless, here comes the prospect of a real nightmare, one that will keep the Illinois family waking up in the middle of the night with a cold sweat and hot flashes.

I mean, just imagine if Kansas coach Bill Self and Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl wind up playing in an NCAA Tournament semifinal.

These are the two most disliked coaches at Illinois, aren't they? Self, the alleged lout who abandoned Champaign for Lawrence? Pearl, the perceived creep who triggered the investigation a couple of decades ago that landed the Illini on probation?

Illinois' best hope is Kansas loses when Self outcoaches himself somewhere along the line and Pearl's luck runs out with a Tennessee team that isn't as talented as Kansas, UCLA, Memphis and a few others.

Ah, but Kansas is a No. 1 seed and Tennessee a No. 2 seed, which puts them in the mix for the Final Four.

Another possibility is that Kansas and Tennessee both lose to UNLV, coached by former Illinois coach Lon Kruger. At least when he left Champaign, it was for the NBA instead of another college job.

Anyway, let's see how it says here that all this figures to shake out:

Opening round

Mount St. Mary's over Coppin State.

First round

East: North Carolina over Mount St. Mary's, Arkansas over Indiana, Notre Dame over George Mason, Washington State over Winthrop, Saint Joseph's over Oklahoma, Louisville over Boise State, Butler over South Alabama, Tennessee over American.

Midwest: Kansas over Portland State, UNLV over Kent State, Clemson over Villanova, Vanderbilt over Siena, USC over Kansas State, Wisconsin over Cal State-Fullerton, Davidson over Gonzaga, Georgetown over UMBC.

South: Memphis over UT-Arlington, Mississippi State over Oregon, Michigan State over Temple, Pittsburgh over Oral Roberts, Marquette over Kentucky, Stanford over Cornell, St. Mary's over Miami, Texas over Austin Peay.

West: UCLA over Mississippi Valley State, Texas A&M over BYU, Drake over Western Kentucky, Connecticut over San Diego, Purdue over Baylor, Xavier over Georgia, Arizona over West Virginia, Duke over Belmont.

Second round

East: North Carolina over Arkansas, Notre Dame over Washington State, Louisville over Saint Joseph's, Tennessee over Butler.

Midwest: Kansas over UNLV, Vanderbilt over Clemson, USC over Wisconsin, Georgetown over Davidson.

South: Memphis over Mississippi State, Pittsburgh over Michigan State, Stanford over Marquette, Texas over St. Mary's.

West: UCLA over Texas A&M, Connecticut over Drake, Xavier over Purdue, Arizona over Duke.

Regional semifinals

East: North Carolina over Notre Dame, Louisville over Tennessee. Midwest: Kansas over Vanderbilt, USC over Georgetown. South: Pittsburgh over Memphis, Texas over Stanford. West: Connecticut over UCLA, Xavier over Arizona.

Regional finals

East: North Carolina over Louisville. Midwest: Kansas over USC. South: Pittsburgh over Texas. West: Xavier over Connecticut.

Final Four

Kansas over North Carolina, Pittsburgh over Xavier.


Kansas over Pittsburgh.