News Local/State

Illini & ISU Redbirds Head to NIT

Illini Malcolm Hill drives against Michigan's Zak Irvin in Ilinois 73-55 loss Thursday.

Illinois' Malcolm Hill (21) drives against Michigan's Zak Irvin (21) in Thursday's 73-55 loss to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

NCAA Men's Bastketball Tournament seedings were announced Sunday night, and no team from Illinois made the field. But both the University of Illinois and Illinois State are in the NIT.

Illinois State hosts Wisconsin-Green Bay Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. The Redbirds are on the opposite side of the bracket from Illinois, and would not face the Illini unless each team earned a spot in the NIT final on April 2nd.

The Illini travel Monday to Tuscaloosa, Alabama where an 18-14 Crimson Tide team awaits a Tuesday night matchup — without a head coach. Anthony Grant was fired Sunday after failing to reach the Big Dance in 5 of 6 years. The Tide finished Southeastern Conference play with an 8-10 record this season, and lost to Florida in the opening round of the SEC Tournament.

Illini coach John Groce had a pint of coffee in hand at 9 p.m. Sunday night, and said he planned to spend the night learning about the Crimson Tide, and would know about them "certainly by the time I wake up tomorrow morning --- if I sleep".

Groce was quick to admit disappointment that his team wouldn't have a chance for college basketball's top honor this year. "I think that all the teams that are in the NIT will tell you that they would prefer to be in the NCAA Tournament", said Groce.

Groce added that he hadn't slept much over the previous week. He and his wife Allison added a third child to the family on Friday. He said two day old Cate Groce and her mother are doing well.

The Illini-'Bama game tips Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The winner will likely face Miami in Florida, where Illinois played already this year, and lost.