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The daily pitch from Sports Editor Matt Daniels: Feb. 10, 2024

Feb. 10—Sports Editor Matt Daniels with a look at what's going on around the area:

Three reasons we love sports today

➜ 1. A chance to keep within reach of Purdue at the top of the Big Ten standings is there for the Illinois men's basketball team. If the Illini beat Michigan State and the Boilermakers lose to Indiana today, watch out. Another Big Ten title banner could be raised at State Farm Center.

➜ 2. The original March Madness arrives in Champaign on March 7. Pairings for the IHSA boys' basketball postseason arrived on Friday afternoon. Take a look at where your favorite local team opens up on B-7 in today's e-Edition.

➜ 3. Good luck to Mahomet-Seymour, Ridgeview and Prairieview-Ogden eighth-grade boys' basketball teams in IESA state quarterfinal games today. Win twice today and they'll play for a state title next week.

Numbers game: 14,797

Fans who should make the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich., a raucous environment today when No. 10 Illinois plays a Michigan State team desperate for a signature win. Michigan State has sold out all 14 of its games this season and will do so again against the Illini. The venue that opened in 1989 has not treated Illinois too kindly, with Lou Henson, Lon Kruger, Bill Self, Bruce Weber, John Groce and Brad Underwood going a combined 8-20 while leading their Illini teams there.

Crowd control

Three events I'm paying attention to

➜ 1. The Class 2A Mahomet-Seymour wrestling sectional. Centennial senior Jack Barnhart is a legit state title contender at 285 pounds. Same for Danville senior Phil Shaw IV at 175 pounds.

➜ 2. Maryland at Illinois women's basketball. The Illini are 0-15 all-time against the Terrapins. But this might be the chance to break the skid for Illinois (11-11, 5-7 Big Ten) when Sunday's game against the Terrapins (13-10, 5-7) tips off at 2 p.m. at State Farm Center in Champaign.

➜ 3. The Super Bowl. For the commercials. And to see former Illini Nick Allegretti — he wears No. 73 — make his second straight start at left guard for the Chiefs.

Coach's corner

Three questions with Danville boys' basketball coach Durrell Robinson before Danville hosts their six-game, 12-team Watchfire Signs Shootout on Saturday. His Vikings conclude the day-long event by playing Glenbard South at 6:30 p.m.

➜ 1. My favorite sports teams are ... the Chicago Bulls, the University of Illinois, the Chicago Cubs and the Las Vegas Aces.

➜ Dawn Staley, John Thompson and Phil Jackson.

➜ 3. My biggest pet peeve is ... when others underestimate my intelligence.