This You Gotta See: Insatiable Illini go for glory (whether their fans can handle it or not)
Shouldn’t Illinois basketball fans be savoring the moment instead of complaining?
Said with love: Get over it, Illinois fans.
The Illini are 20-6 entering this week’s Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis. They finished the regular season on a 12-1 blitz in league play and closed almost unthinkably well, winning at Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State. They are the school’s best team since the national runners-up of 2005 and nearly as entertaining — with their insatiable defense and the spectacular combo of Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn — as the “Flyin’ Illini” who reached the Final Four in 1989.
But their fans don’t stop complaining, it seems. About the refs. About preferential treatment other programs get in the media. About Michigan being named regular-season champ at 14-3 even though the Illini went 16-4.
“Nobody’s won more games than us, and we played them all,” coach Brad Underwood eagerly pointed out.
It turns out there’s no consolation prize for that.
Illini fans are mad about Iowa’s Luka Garza winning Big Ten player of the year over Dosunmu even though that hasn’t even happened yet. They’re mad about someone other than Dosunmu — maybe Garza again — winning national player of the year even though that hasn’t happened yet, either. Will someone other than Underwood hoard coach of the year honors? We don’t know, but Illini fans are mad about that, too.
Shouldn’t they be savoring the moment instead? On the court, the Illini certainly have much bigger fish to fry. Like, oh, winning a league tournament, going to the Final Four, maybe winning the whole shooting match — little stuff like that.
Focus, Illini fans. Maybe take a couple of deep breaths first just to be on the safe side.
Here’s what’s happening:
Rangers at Cubs (2:05 p.m., NBCSCH)
Now that Nico Hoerner is the Cubs’ greatest second baseman since Ryne Sandberg — just look at those spring numbers! — manager David Ross might want to shut him down and save the bullets off his bat for the regular season.
White Sox at Dodgers (2:05 p.m., MLB.TV)
A World Series preview? You know, the spring kind, with a field full of unrecognizable dudes after the fifth inning.
Padres at White Sox (2:05 p.m., MLB.TV)
A World Series preview? Much like the Sox, the Padres are loaded and on a dramatic ascent. Isn’t trying to win fun?
Blackhawks at Stars (7:30 p.m., NBCSN, NBCSCH)
Goalies Malcolm Subban and Kevin Lankinen one-two punched the Stars with back-to-back 2-1 OT wins last month in Dallas. It’s nice to have good options.
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Barcelona (2 p.m., Paramount+)
The second leg of this Champions League matchup strongly favors PSG, meaning this could be the great Lionel Messi’s final appearance for Barcelona before a possible transfer to — wait for it — PSG.
Big Ten first round: Northwestern vs. Minnesota (5:30 p.m., BTN)
The Wildcats are stuck in another 12-vs.-13 matchup, but give them credit for ending the regular season on a three-game winning streak. To the victor goes a Thursday date with Ohio State.
Big East first round: DePaul vs. Providence (8 p.m., FS1)
Another last-place Blue Demons team, another chance to ask: Is this the end of the road for Blue Demons coach Dave Leitao?
76ers at Bulls (7 p.m., NBCSCH)
It might make a slight difference if Philly’s Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid — who missed the All-Star Game due to COVID-19 protocols — are on the floor. Embiid hit the Bulls for 50 earlier this season.
Brewers at Cubs (2:05 p.m., Marquee)
You think Javy Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are the only NL Central stars looking to bounce back in 2021? Christian Yelich — what a bum — hit .182 last season.
Big Ten quarterfinal: Illinois vs. Rutgers/Indiana (5:30 p.m., BTN)
We want to say a win for the Illini here locks up a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance, but we just can’t guarantee it. Then again, when has that stopped us before?
Heat at Bulls (8 p.m., NBCSCH)
Frankly, we’re getting a little tired of saying Jimmy Butler is returning to the United Center every time Jimmy Butler is returning to the United Center. Can we agree to stop saying Jimmy Butler is returning to the United Center?
Angels at White Sox (2:05 p.m., NBCSCH)
Today in Great Ex-Chicago Coaches brings a visit to our screens from former Cubs skipper Joe Maddon. Just imagine how confused he’ll be when he gazes up into the Sox’ radio booth and sees Len Kasper.
Blackhawks at Panthers (6 p.m., NBCSCH)
Yes, kids, former Hawks coach Joel Quenneville was pretty dang great, too. Is anyone really surprised to see the man crushing life with the team in South Florida?
Big Ten final (2:30 p.m., Ch. 2)
Will Illinois make it this far? It would surprise no one. Will Northwestern? But seriously, folks. The best league in the land is sure to have a riveting finish.
NCAA Tournament Selection Show (5 p.m., Ch. 2)
Will the top four seeds be Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan and Illinois? If so, in what order? If not, who cares? Everybody knows Loyola is winning the whole thing.