Mar 17, 2024 - Sports

March Madness destinations for Illini, Wildcats

Photo of a basketball player on the court

Illinois' Coleman Hawkins. Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The NCAA men's tournament bracket is set and the Illini and Northwestern are dancing.

The big picture: The Illini, fresh off winning the Big Ten Tournament, snagged the No. 3 seed in the East Region and will face off against Morehead State in Omaha on Thursday.

Catch up quick: The Illini defeated Wisconsin 93-87 just minutes before the NCAA Tournament brackets were selected.

  • The Illini were led by by star Terrence Shannon Jr., who scored 34 points.
  • It is coach Brad Underwood's second Big Ten championship since coming to Champaign in 2017.
  • Underwood also unlocked bonuses and a contract extension by winning the Big Ten title.

Bottom line: If the Illini can win on Thursday, they will face the winner of the BYU/Duquesne matchup.

Photo of a basketball player shooting a basketball
Boo Buie of Northwestern. Photo: G Fiume/Getty Images

The Northwestern Wildcats will also play in the East Region, starting on Friday in Brooklyn versus Florida Atlantic (FAU).

  • It's the first time in Northwestern's history that the team has gone to March Madness in back-to-back seasons.

What to know: Northwestern's early loss in the Big Ten Tournament has made their journey more difficult, first with a FAU team that went to the Final Four last year.

  • If they get by FAU, they could face a potential second-round matchup against the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament, the UConn Huskies.

Yes, but: The Wildcats played well all year, upsetting Purdue and the Illini, while playing hard against other Big Ten teams that snagged NCAA Tournament berths.

Of note: The Loyola Ramblers men's basketball team lost in the Atlantic 10 Tournament and were shut out of this year's NCAA Tournament.


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