CHICAGO — The Illini men’s basketball team was eliminated from the Big Ten tournament Thursday afternoon.
Illinois dropped its first-round game 73-55 to Michigan at the United Center.
The Wolverines controlled most of the game, taking 17-point lead into the half. The Illini were never able to catch up, getting knocked out of the conference tournament by Michigan for the second-straight year.
The Illini starters struggled offensively, shooting 28.5 percent from the field and going 1-for-13 from 3-point range.
Illinois was led by sophomore Malcolm Hill with 13 points, and senior guard Rayvonte Rice and freshman forward Leron Black with 10 points each. Black received a technical foul late in the first half, helping elevate Michigan’s momentum taking a 40-23 lead into the half.
The Illini locker room was surprised by their performance following the blowout loss.
“That one blindsided me,” Illini head coach John Groce said.
Illinois likely needed one win in the Big Ten tournament in order to receive a bid for the NCAA tournament next week. The loss now sets the team up for a trip to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) for the second year in a row.
Michigan was lights out from the floor, shooting nearly 50 percent from the field. Freshman guard Aubrey Dawkins led the Wolverines with 18 points, shooting 8-for-12 throughout the game.
Illinois’ loss leaves them at 19-13 on the season, one shy of the 20-win mark that most NCAA tournament teams have heading into the March Madness season. The team will likely receive a high-seed in the NIT tournament shall it end up there.
The Illini were knocked out of the second-round of the NIT last season, falling to Clemson 50-49 on the road.
Michigan will move on to play No. 1 seed Wisconsin on Friday afternoon, the favorite to win the Big Ten tournament.
Illinois will find out where it will end up in postseason play this Sunday when the NCAA and NIT tournament fields are announced.
This was both one of my favorite and one of my least favorite stories I have done this year in class. It was extremely fun and exciting to cover a high-profile college basketball game that had implications on the NCAA postseason, but doing an audio story was also something I’ve never done before. At times it became frustrating.
It was initially very hard work to get good audio for the story, especially dealing with the Chicago media. Since the game was played at the United Center, the Chicago media was there to cover the game. Usually in Champaign or on the road, there’s less media to deal with. However, it became a frenzy once we were in Chicago. Dealing with the bigger companies’ reporters was difficult because it became a “fend for yourself” situation without regard for common courtesy, which is completely understandable, but wasn’t what I was used to having previously covered home games in the local Champaign-Urbana area. After having to fight for a good spot to get good audio, it became even more difficult with people knocking into me and reaching over my head, affecting the position of the audio recorder in my hand.
The experience was fun, however. But editing the audio and recording my own parts became tricky. I simply don’t have a radio voice. It’s somehow mumbled but high-pitched in tone, resulting in the perfect hurricane for an audio journalism story. I did my best with it, but this isn’t something I can see myself doing in the future. I’m definitely more of a print writer.
I grew up listening to WBBM throughout late-grade school and into high school, so I had an intuitive knowledge of how to edit the story. I knew to not leave any pauses or breaks in the audio and to comfortably cram everything together. With this, I feel like I did a good job editing, but of course there’s only so much to work with when your audio isn’t the highest of quality.
I would do a project like this again and continue to try and get better at it, but I would need to work on my own reporting voice going forward. You can listen to my final project here.