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The daily pitch from Sports Editor Matt Daniels: March 28, 2024

Mar. 28—➜ to watch the Illinois women's basketball game and Illinois men's basketball games on Thursday night. Gates open at 6 p.m. and fans should enter the West Main gates.

➜ . With on a health-related leave as he fights cancer, Hill is now helping Illinois. He went 2-0 with Cleveland in 18 games in 2020.

➜ . The 2019 N-G boys' basketball Player of the Year is a starter averaging 11.7 points at West Texas A&M, with the Buffaloes playing Minnesota State (Holt's old school) at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in the D-II national semifinals in Evansville, Ind.

Winning percentage Illinois men's basketball has this season wearing either orange or navy blue jerseys. Illinois likely won't wear white against Iowa State since the Cyclones are the better seed. The Illini are 20-2 in their regular white uniforms or throwback white uniforms. Illinois is 8-6 in either orange or navy blue, with the Illini 4-1 in their regular orange uniforms, 3-4 in their throwback orange uniforms and 1-1 in their navy blue uniforms.

➜ . The Illini are 3-3 in Sweet 16 games since the NCAA tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Wins happened against Louisville (1989), Kansas (2001) and Milwaukee (2005). Losses came against Georgia Tech (1985), Kansas (2002) and Duke (2004).

➜ . Beat the Golden Hurricane tonight and the Illini will play next Monday in the WBIT semifinals at Hinkle Fieldhouse for the program's first ever game in April.

➜ . Reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Drake Westcott has 25 career home runs — still eight away from cracking into the program's Top 10, but certainly obtainable — for the Illini before Friday's 6 p.m. first pitch.

➜ the Pittsburgh Steelers or anything black and gold. This one is my birthright having been born in Pittsburgh.

➜ Mike Ditka, Bill Cowher and Tony Dungy.

➜ all the money in amateur sports. If you want to get paid to play, join a minor league. Scholarships should be for scholars, not athletes. If you are good enough, they will find you. Otherwise, get an education or go to work.