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Rumble in Rosemont

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Mar 24, 2005 3:53PM

2005_03_sports_illini_march_t-shirt.jpgThe March towards the Arch returns to action today, including two games at the AllState Arena. In Chicago, there's really only one game -- Cinderella-story Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers vs. top-seed Illinois Fighting Illini. Who'd have thought when the Illini forsaw playing in the Chicago regional, that their opponent's campus would actually be half the distance to the arena? No matter... it'll still be a sea of orange in Rosemont.

And that orange sea will be loudly booing Milwaukee coach Bruce Pearl, who has taken a great deal of flack from Illini fans for his role in their NCAA troubles back in 1989. As an assistant coach at Iowa, he taped a phone conversation with star recruit Deon Thomas where Thomas confessed to receiving $80,000 and a Chevy Blazer from Illinois, and turned in the evidence against the Illini. That helped lead to the Illini being placed on probation by the NCAA. Chicaogist thinks it ridiculous to be harassing Pearl about this. First off, focus on the game at hand -- today's players were in diapers when this happened. It has nothing to do with today's teams. Secondly, recruiting violations did occur involving Thomas. Pearl didn't cause them, his evidence wasn't the only piece in the investigation and the Illini were rightly punished for misdeeds. It's time to move on...

Yet Rosemont is worried enough about angry Illini fans that they've dramatically stepped up security surrounding the game and Pearl specifically. They've tripled their security compared to DePaul games and they've assigned two guards to Pearl, "flanking him like a Mafia informant" according to Jay Mariotti.

It's time for a chicagoist NCAA pool update: First off, we were amazed to see 82 readers fill in brackets in our pool! We were really hoping for 6 or 7, so Chicagoist was very excited to see the level of participation.

Heading into the Sweet 16, Z. Rouse's Chicago MisterTissue are sitting at the top with GoldCoast v. t's Loserbracket close behind. Yours truly is sitting in a tie for 18th place. Chicagoist would like to be doing a little better, but Kansas and Georgia Tech killed us. And with Wake Forest sent home the opening weekend, we look like we're not going to be making any late push.