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Illinois Draws NCAA Opener Against Colorado

First-year Illinois coach John Groce says he's just happy the team's NCAA Tournament bid means his senior players get a one more shot at a postseason run.

A year ago the Illini were watching coach Bruce Weber get fired after the team missed the postseason.

This year the Illini (21-12, 8-10 Big Ten) are a No. 7 seed. They'll face 10-seed Colorado Friday in Austin.

The Illini started 12-0 and spent several weeks in the Top 25. But a 2-7 slump raised doubts about whether they could be a tournament team.

Groce said the team showed toughness it will need to duplicate to get back into the tournament picture.

Illini senior guard Brandon Paul said the new coaching staff's confidence helped the team fight back from last season.

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