The top-ranked team in the country is still in contention for their first national championship. Illinois advanced to the title game with a 72-57 win over Louisville in the early semifinal game in St. Louis Saturday night. The Illini took a 31-28 lead into the locker room at half time and despite an early fight in the second half, IU ended up cruising to the 15-point win.

Roger Powell and Luther Head led Illinois in scoring with 20 apiece. Powell did most of his damage in the second half, scoring 18 in the final 20 minutes. In fact, the Illini as a team shot lights out in the second half, nailing 62.5 percent of their shots after hitting just 37.5 percent in the first half. No other member of the Bruce Weber’s roster scored more than nine points in the game. James Augustine had just six points for the Illini, but he held down the fort on the glass, grabbing 11 rebounds.

The long-range game, which had carried Louisville to the Final Four fell flat on Saturday night, as the Cardinals hit just 6-of-20 from the three point line. Ellis Myles had 17 points to lead Louisville, which finished the season with a record of 33-5.

Illinois advanced to the championship game for the first time in school history.


Much like the game before it, the North Carolina-Michigan St. contest was all about the second half, as the Tar Heels rolled to an 87-71 victory over the Spartans. Michigan State took care of business early, grabbing just about every loose ball and grabbed a 38-33 lead at the half, despite hitting just 15-of-40 baskets in the first half. The shooting got worse for Michigan St. in the second half, as they made just 29.4 percent of their shots. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels made 57.1 percent of their attempts.

Senior Sean May scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the win, whiles Jawad Williams had 20 points and eight boards. Rashad McCants and Raymond Felton scored 17 and 16 respectively. The Tarheels took over almost immediately in the second half and out-scored the Spartans 54-33 over the final 20 minutes.

Head coach Roy Williams will make his third trip to the championship game and try to win his first title. He took Kansas to the finals in 1991, losing to Duke and in 2003, losing to Syracuse. A win on Monday would secure the third national championship in North Carolina’s history.