Remember Illinois' run to the Final Four last year? The Illini never had to get a plane. They played the opening two rounds in Indy, the regionals in Chicago and the Final Four was in St. Louis. It's a different story this year, as Bruce Weber's team hops a plane to San Diego for their first-round date with Air Force. If Illinois survives the weekend, they jet to the opposite coast to play in Washington D.C.
The situation has left the Illini a bit unhappy, reports Herb Gould of The Chicago Sun-Times. Most critics felt Illinois deserved to be seeded ahead of Tennessee, a team that got a surprising #2 spot.
The Illini have no real reason to complain, other then geography though. Air Force is the weakest at-large team in the field, and I don't think the Falcons should have been chosen at all. If Weber's team takes care of business there, Washington is not overwhelming at #5. The only downside is that both of those teams are from the West, and closer to home.
But the Illinois fans can solve that, by filling the arena this weekend and turning it into Champaign West. Get out those frequent flyer miles, Illini fans--you had plenty of chances to save them last March.