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|Illini Gets NCAA Tourney Bid; To Face UNLV, Former Coach Kruger
|POSTED 5:44pm 3/13/11 CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Illinois will face UNLV and former Illini coach Lon Kruger on Friday in Tulsa, Okla., in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
The Runnin' Rebels (24-8) finished fourth in the Mountain West. Kruger left Illinois in 2000 after four seasons.
The Illini (19-13), who received a No. 9 seed from the NCAA, were left wondering Sunday just what their postseason fate would be after a 60-55 opening loss to Michigan Friday in the Big Ten tournament. The Illini led by as many as 12 but collapsed down the stretch.
That loss was reminiscent of a string of disappointing and often close losses for Illinois. After being snubbed for last year's NCAA tournament, Illinois opened the season ranked No. 13 and considered a contender for the Big Ten title.
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