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The daily pitch from Sports Editor Matt Daniels: March 14, 2024

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Sports Editor Matt Daniels with a look at what's going on around the area:

Three reasons we love sports today

➜ 1. Voting closes at noon Thursday at news-gazette.com for the latest high school Athletes of the Week, powered by Copper Creek Contractors.

➜ The boys' finalists are Lucian Bright of the Champaign Central track and field team, Noah Daniels of the Mahomet-Seymour wrestling team, Abraham Lenear of the Urbana track and field team and Drew McTaggart of the Watseka track and field team. The girls' finalists are all track and field athletes: MaKayla Koeppel of Clinton, Farah Scott of Centennial, Natalie Thomason of Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin and Lorelie Yau of Urbana.

➜ 3. Wall-to-wall college basketball with conference tournaments in full swing. Check out all the pairings on C-4 of Thursday's edition.

Numbers game: .444

Winning percentage Illinois men's basketball has when it plays on March 15, with the Illini 4-5 all-time on that date before Friday night's game against either Iowa or Ohio State. The last March 15 game? An 80-64 loss against Indiana in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Big Ten tournament. The most recent win on March 15? A 54-50 victory against Minnesota in the 2008 Big Ten tournament semifinals. For what this mostly meaningless statistic is worth.

Crowd control

Three events I'm paying attention to

➜ 1. Illinois vs. Iowa or Ohio State men's basketball. A Friday night tip in Minneapolis against teams the Illini are 3-0 against thie season.

➜ 2. Murray State vs. Bradley women's basketball. Oakwood graduate Katelyn Young has 2,257 career points for Murray State and is only 30 points away from becoming the Racers' all-time leading scorer. She'll get a chance Thursday night in a first-round Missouri Valley Conference tournament game in Moline.

➜ 3. Westville at Mahomet-Seymour softball. Westville pitcher Abby Sabalaskey has the potential to throw a no-hitter in every start. The Northern Kentucky signee faces off against M-S at 5 p.m. Friday.

Coach's corner

Three questions with Hoopeston Area boys' track and field coach Erika Seidel before the Cornjerkers open the outdoor season next Monday with a five-team home meet. Seidel, a Hoopeston Area graduate who won The N-G girls' cross-country Runner of the Year in 2008, is also the Cornjerkers' cross-country coach.

➜ 1. My favorite sports team is ... the Chicago Cubs.

➜ 2. Three coaches I'd like to have dinner with are ... Danny Mackey, Joe Maddon and Petros Kyprianou.

➜ 3. My biggest pet peeve is ... when people don't follow through on their word.