The daily pitch from Sports Editor Matt Daniels: Feb. 29, 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. Dylan Dodd is set to start for the Braves against the Rays in a spring training game on Thursday in Port Charlotte, Fla. It's the first appearance this spring for the 26-year-old Bismarck-Henning graduate, who went 2-2 with a 7.60 ERA as a rookie with the Braves last season.

➜ Before Wednesday night's Illinois men's basketball game against Minnesota, Jerry Palm of CBS Sports released his latest bracketogloy on Wednesday morning. Palm has the Illini as a No. 4 seed playing 13th-seeded UC Irvine in Spokane, Wash., in a first-round NCAA tournament game.

➜ 3. Parkland women's basketball sophomore Alyssa Cole surpassed 1,000 points with the Cobras during Wednesday night's 77-66 win at Illinois Central. Impressive.

Numbers game: 15.8

Points per game former Illini All-American Ayo Dosunmu averaged in February for the Bulls, the highest scoring total, by month, of his three-year NBA career. The 24-year-old Dosunmu and the Bulls concluded their February slate with a 132-123 home win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night at the United Center in Chicago and are currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 23 regular-season games remaining.

Crowd control

Three events I'm paying attention to

➜ 1. Illinois vs. Florida State baseball. The 1 p.m. first pitch on Friday from Greenville, S.C., will see Dan Hartleb's Illini (3-5) tangle with the tradition-rich Seminoles (7-0), who have made 23 appearances in the College World Series.

➜ 2. Illinois at LSU softball. Illinois (3-6) will try to pull the upset against the unbeaten and fourth-ranked Tigers (13-0) at 4 p.m. Friday in Baton Rouge, La. Illinois coach Tyra Perry is an LSU alum who starred for the Tigers in the late 1990s.

➜ 3. Baylor at Illinois men's tennis. A Top-20 showdown inside a noisy Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana gets underway at 6 p.m. Friday between the 14th-ranked Bears (12-1) and 19th-ranked Illini (5-2).

Coach's corner

Three questions with veteran Champaign Central coach Scott Davis, who currently leads the Maroons' boys' tennis and girls' tennis program and won 330 games coaching the Maroons' boys' basketball program from 1992 through 2013.

➜ 1. My favorite sports team is ... the St. Louis Cardinals.

➜ 2. Three coaches I'd like to have dinner with are ... Tommy Stewart, Lee Cabutti and Jeff Triger. Two of them, Coach Stewart and Coach Cabutti, have passed away, but all three had amazing stories and insight to share.

➜ 3. My biggest pet peeve is ... people who are late.