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Bus to Boston: Orange Krush going the distance to show Illini support

Mar. 27—Hang a News-Gazette front-page poster on your wall

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CHAMPAIGN — A bus carrying 32 members of the Orange Krush is scheduled to pull out of a State Farm Center parking lot around 8 p.m. today.

Destination: Boston.

"I completely agree: It's nuts," Orange Krush vice president Zach Torf said. "But if there's one word to describe the Orange Krush, it's 'nuts.'

"It's who we are. We're Illini basketball fanatics."

Brad Underwood holding court with the broadcast team. #Illini #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/M40ncYfgsN

— Scott Richey (@srrichey) March 27, 2024

The Krush kids are making the 16-hour, 1,079-mile drive to support Brad Underwood's surging Illini, who take on Iowa State in Thursday's second game at TD Garden (estimated tip time: 9:09 p.m.).

The hope is to arrive in time for an Illini pregame party at nearby Hurricane's, kicking off a wild weekend on the East Coast. The bus back to Champaign departs after Saturday night's East Regional final.

"Another red-eye," Torf said. "It's the most spur-of-the-moment thing we've ever done."

The students arranged lodging on their own, Torf said, some staying with friends and others going the Airbnb route.

The Orange Krush usually takes up to 150 students on in-season roadtrips. Considering the distance, timing and stakes, the travel party was limited for what will be their longest trip in organization history.

Torf said 32 will sound like 150, though, once in the arena.

"There will be no shortage of noise coming from our seats," the junior said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to watch our team in the Sweet 16 with 31 other people as passionate as you are."