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The daily pitch from Sports Editor Matt Daniels: March 15, 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

➜ , squaring off against Ohio State at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

➜ 2. Congrats to Farah Scott of Centennial girls' track and field and Noah Daniels of Mahomet-Seymour wrestling for winning The News-Gazette's high school Athletes of the Week, powered by Copper Creek Contractors. Read more about the duo in Monday's News-Gazette.

➜ 3. The Faces of the Spring photo series highlighting 300 high school athletes will start running in pages of The News-Gazette next week. But photo galleries are available now at news-gazette.com. Check out Robin Scholz's high-quality work now.

Numbers game: 2

Days until Selection Sunday. The 68-team men's basketball field will be unveiled at 5 p.m. on CBS, with the 68-team women's basketball field set to be revealed two hours later at 7 p.m. on ESPN. Where will Illinois wind up? The consensus among most bracketologists — and again, take it for what's it worth in entertainment value — before the Big Ten tournament tips off for the Illini on Friday night is a No. 4 seed.

Crowd control

Three events I'm paying attention to

➜ 1. Selection Sunday. It's that big of a deal, so it gets mentioned twice here. If Illinois does indeed wind up as a No. 4 seed, that'll mark the program's eighth time as a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament, with the most recent in 2022.

➜ 2. Ohio State at Illinois men's gymnastics. Senior Day arrives for coach Daniel Ribeiro's second-ranked program at 2 p.m. Saturday at Huff Hall against the seventh-ranked Buckeyes.

➜ 3. Parkland vs. Iowa Western women's basketball. The 12th-seeded Cobras (26-5) start the NJCAA Division II national tournament against the fifth-seeded Reivers (31-2) at 6 p.m. Monday at the Leggett and Platt Athletic Center in Joplin, Mo.

Coach's corner

Fisher baseball coach Milt Kelly. The former Fisher Mayor is in his third stint coaching the Bunnies, first doing so from 1993-2005, the again in 2017 and now from 2020 on.

➜ 1. My favorite sports team is ... the St. Louis Cardinals. Of course, I love the Illini and all the Bunnies' teams, but the Cardinals are my favorite.

➜ 2. Three coaches I'd like to have dinner with are ... John Wooden, Tony LaRussa and Lou Henson.

➜ 3. My biggest pet peeve is ... any time we fail to give our best effort in the classroom or on the field. I am convinced that the two go hand-in-hand.