The daily pitch from Sports Editor Matt Daniels: March 30, 2024

Mar. 30—➜ . Beat Connecticut on Saturday night — easier said than done — and the Illini men's basketball team will move on to the national semifinals next Saturday in Glendale, Ariz.

➜ Check out and for extensive coverage Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

➜ like they did on Thursday night. Fans can enter the venue starting at 4 p.m.

Numbers game: 30

Wins is needed by this Illinois team to reach the Final Four. If the Illini (29-8) can beat reigning national champion Connecticut (34-3) on Saturday night when they tip off at 5:09 p.m. at TD Garden in Boston, this will become the third Illinois team to win at least 30 games in a season. The 2004-05 team finished 37-2 and reached the national title game, while the 1988-89 Flyin' Illini went 31-5 and reached the national semifinals.

➜ . The Illini will try to buck history and beat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament for the first time. Illinois is 0-5 all-time against No. 1 seeds, losing to Kentucky (1984), Kansas (2002), Duke (2004), North Carolina (2005) and Kansas (2011).

➜ . If Illinois beats UConn, it gets the winner of this game in the Final Four next Saturday night at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. This Elite Eight game is set to tip at 7:49 p.m. Saturday in Los Angeles.

➜ . The two teams meet at 4 p.m. Monday in the WBIT semifinals at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

➜ the Illini basketball team.

➜ Tony Holler, Phil Jackson and Brad Underwood.

➜ when athletes don't get warmed up with enough time before a race.