Quick hits | Illinois 72, Iowa State 69

Mar. 29—What happened

A double-digit halftime lead looked like Illinois was firmly in control late Thursday night in its Sweet 16 showdown with Iowa State at TD Garden in Boston. By the time Friday hit, though, the Cyclones had mounted a comeback. Cut their deficit. Illinois absorbed those blows. Didn't falter. And finished off a 72-69 victory behind Terrence Shannon Jr. to clinch a spot in the Elite Eight.

What it means

Illinois is Elite Eight bound — again for the first time since 2005. But also for just the 10th time in program history and only fourth time in the modern era following the NCAA tournament's expansion to 64 teams in 1985. The Illini have smashed the "no success in March" narrative hung over the program in less than a week's time. First by making the Sweet 16, and then by making it out of it.

What's next

Pushing the postseason run another step further won't be easy. Reigning champion Connecticut stands between Illinois and the sixth Final Four appearance in program history. The Huskies ran roughshod over San Diego State in Thursday's other Sweet 16 game in Boston, turning the national championship rematch into a laugher in the second half for a 82-52 victory.

What was said

"I thought that is what a Sweet 16 game would look like. It was pretty much what I expected. ... I'm super excited and proud. We didn't come here to win one game. We came here to win two. To advance to the Elite Eight is special, and we have a great challenge. We'll dive into them sometime about 3:00 a.m. when we get back and be ready to go for UConn on Saturday." — Illinois coach Brad Underwood