The daily pitch from Sports Editor Matt Daniels: April 4, 2024

Apr. 4—➜ Wasn't all that long ago Illinois women's basketball was destined to end its season in early March at the Big Ten tournament.

➜ When North Carolina State men's basketball plays Purdue on Saturday in the Final Four, look for a former area standout on the Wolfpack bench.

Days until the Illinois football spring game at Memorial Stadium, with kickoff at 1 p.m. on April 20 in Champaign. 's fourth Illini team will return a starter at quarterback in , but who will the 21-year-old throw to this fall? is likely one option. Find out more about the talented sophomore wide receiver from Chicago in Friday's News-Gazette via our veteran beat writer .

➜ . The Illini will try to win their first Big Ten title since 2018 in front of their home fans at State Farm Center in Champaign. The action gets going at 7 p.m. Friday before continuing at 7 p.m. Saturday.

➜ . The Illini (13-19) are still trying to secure their first Big Ten win after starting out league play 0-5. Will it happpen at 5 p.m. Friday in the first of a three-game weekend series against the Terrapins (16-17, 3-3) in College Park, Md? Stay tuned.

➜ . A generational talent () against a Hall of Fame coach (Geno Auriemma) on Friday night. Enjoy.

➜ the Chicago Cubs.

➜ John Wooden, Bill Meade and Clark Schultes.

➜ when people automatically say can't without thinking or trying.