While there isn't a team from Illinois in the Sweet 16 of the men's NCAA basketball tournament, there's another Land of Lincoln connection to a head coach in the tournament, and we're not talking about Mike Krzyzewski of Duke or Thad Motta of Ohio State.
La Salle head coach John Giannini is a graduate of North Central College and a trustee at the Naperville institution.
"I'll tell you how much I love North Central," says Giannini. "I talked with four people this morning. Mike and Mike on ESPN radio, Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) and Rick Spencer (North Central College's vice president for institutional advancement)."
Giannini, who earned a bachelor's degree in psychology at North Central in 1984, also has a Ph.D from the University of Illinois.
Thirteen-seeded La Salle (24-9) plays ninth-seeded Wichita State (24-9) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles (approximately 9:17 p.m.). It has been a long time since either team has made the Final Four. La Salle was the 1954 national champion, and Wichita State made the 1965 Final Four.
Here is a link to a story at northcentralcollege.edu that has more on the bond between the coach and the school.