Illinois Fighting Illini (25-6) vs. Air Force Falcons (24-6).
When: Thursday, 7:25 p.m.
Where: San Diego
1. Bruce Weber Does Not Do Gay Photography. If you re ever bored, we encourage you to Google "Bruce Weber," the name of the Illini's beloved (and duck-voiced) head coach. You won't be directed to his page on FightingIllini.com; instead, BruceWeber.com is the official Web site of an entirely different Bruce Weber. That Bruce Weber is a New York City-based photographer who "features the beauty of youth in male nude photography." So be not confused: Not the same guy.
2. When Dee Brown Is Done With You, You Won t Be Able To Shit Straight For A Week. The Illini's senior guard very well might be the most popular player in team history; ironically, he has thrived under the coaching of Weber, whose hiring he initially publicly skulked about. But when times are difficult, he turns to ... Bad Santa. After Illinois' lone regular season loss to Ohio State last season, Brown went home with then-roommate, now-Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams to watch the film, which he classifies as one of his favorites. "I had to get all my anger out," he said.
3. The Illini Might Be Responsible For The Dick Vitale We Now Know. In 1987, an Illini team led by Ken Norman and Doug Altenberger received the No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament and were predicted to reach the Final Four by an up-and-coming broadcaster named Dick Vitale. In the first round, Illinois faced little-known Austin Peay, the champions of the Ohio Valley Conference and most famous for their fans' chant for 1970s player James "Fly" Williams: "The Fly Is Open ... Let s Go Peay!" Back then, early rounds of the NCAA tournament were shown on ESPN, and in the second half, with Peay down to the Illini by only three points, Vitale appeared in ESPN's studio and bellowed, "THERE S NO WAY ILLINOIS LOSES THIS GAME! IF ILLINOIS LOSES, I'LL STAND ON MY HEAD!" Sure enough, Austin Peay pulled off the 68-67 upset, and, months later, Vitale visited the school's Tennessee campus and successfully stood on his head for 10 seconds. The headstand caused an extreme rush of blood to Vitale's brain and reduced his mental acuity to that of a retarded dolphin. — Will Leitch
1. Antoine Hood Is Cooler Than You. Not only was the Falcons' starting guard voted to the 2005-2006 Mountain West all-conference first team by leading Air Force in scoring at 14.8 points per game and assists with 78, but he will always be more popular then you. He currently has 1,031 friends at the United States Air Force Academy, and many more friends in over 303 universities listed on his Facebook. He is also a proud member of groups such as,: "Management Majors: The Only Way to Roll" and "You Might Have Seen Me On Facebook, But Shawty You Don't Know Me." So please, after Antoine finishes driving through you like a knife through butter, don t hate him too much. After all, Hood and many more men and women like him are the reason you have the freedom to watch March Madness in the first place.
2. The Falcons Aren t Scared Of Ghosts. One of the most common occurrences in the life of an Air Force Academy cadet? Briefings. They range from leadership skills to the dangers of STD's, and everything in between. The most common building used for these buildings is Arnold Hall, which also serves as a student union building for the cadets, serving food and sponsoring formal dances throughout the year. The thing about Arnold? It's haunted. Over the years, eight cadets have used Arnold Hall to commit suicide, usually deciding to hang themselves off the high rafters above where the cadets sit. If the Falcons can brave eight ghosts on a day-to-day basis, then five angry Texans shouldn't be a problem.
3. Dan Nwaelele Will Make You Cry. You may not have heard his name, but once he starts dropping treys like it was nobody's business, you can be sure that "Nwaelele" will be locked in your memory for the whole offseason as the man who knocked off your beloved team. (Editor's Note: Great.) For the Falcons to advance, they will have to rely on the three, and no one has been better this year then Dan. He currently is shooting 48.4 percent from behind the arc, 5 percentage points better then that other guy playing for that OTHER blue team. He also is shooting a team high 90 percent from the free-throw line and has scored in double figures in 12 of the Falcons' 16 conference games. And next year, he will be back leading the Falcons to the big dance on a 24-5 squad that will be starting five seniors. Scary —Kyle D. Sellner