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Illinois Illini men’s March Madness live updates: Selection Sunday bracket predictions

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Illinois Illini men’s March Madness live updates: Selection Sunday bracket predictions


The Illinois Fighting Illini have a warm-up performance on Selection Sunday as they face the Wisconsin Badgers for the Big-10 men’s basketball crown.

The Illini look to be a part of the chalk heading into the big dance as the brackets are released.

Experts across the college basketball landscape have the Fighting Illini as either a No. 3 or No. 4 seed ahead of the Big-10 title game.

The Illini have the wind at their back after a conference tournament record 40-point, turnover free performance from Terrence Shannon Jr. to propel them to the comeback over Nebraska and into the Big-10’s big game.

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It’s time for the madness so follow along throughout the day for updates on the Illini, the tournament and everything you need to know heading into the NCAA March Madness.

IT’S BRACKET MADNESS: Enter USA TODAY’s NCAA tournament bracket contest for a chance at $1 million prize.

When is Selection Sunday?

Selection Sunday is today! (I mean it’s kind-of in the name here friends) The Selection Sunday show will tip-off on CBS and Paramount+ at 4 p.m. CT.

How to watch: Catch March Madness action with a Paramount+ subscription

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Well, the Illini technically aren’t standing at the moment as they are currently on the stage for the Big-10 championship game against Wisconsin.

While the championship and the automatic berth would be a feather in the cap for the season, the Illini very likely won’t need it to get into the dance as most experts have them as either a No. 3 or No. 4 seed.

March Madness starts with the First Four on March 19.

We occasionally recommend interesting products and services. If you make a purchase by clicking one of the links, we may earn an affiliate fee. USA TODAY Network newsrooms operate independently, and this doesn’t influence our coverage.



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Illinois State Police squad car struck by driver in Union County

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Illinois State Police squad car struck by driver in Union County


ANNA, Ill. (KFVS) – An Illinois State Police squad car was struck by a driver on Interstate 57 east of Anna, Illinois.

Around 9:06 p.m. on April 23, ISP officials investigated a traffic crash in Union County involving a trooper’s squad car hit by a motorist who failed to move over.

According to ISP, the squad car was parked on the inside shoulder of I-57 northbound near milepost 37.5, just north of Lick Creek Road, with emergency lights activated, handling a motorist assist. The trooper was inside of the squad car when it was struck by a white Infiniti. The trooper was transported to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the Infiniti was identified as 59-year-old Kimberly Keser of Creal Springs, Illinois. Keser reported no injuries on the scene. She was cited for the Move Over Law – Failure to yield to a stationary emergency vehicle and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.

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In 2024, ISP has suffered 14 Move Over Law-related crashes with six troopers injured. In 2023, ISP had 21 Move Over Law-related crashes with seven troopers injured and suffered 25 crashes in 2022, leaving 13 troopers injured.

ISP reminds the public that the Move Over Law, also known as “Scott’s Law,” requires all drivers to move over when approaching an emergency vehicle, or any vehicle with its emergency or hazard lights activated.



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Top general for Illinois National Guard retiring after joining military nearly 40 years ago

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Top general for Illinois National Guard retiring after joining military nearly 40 years ago


A little over five years ago, Maj. Gen. Richard Neely took the Illinois National Guard flag in a chain of command ceremony.

On May 4, Neely, the adjutant general for Illinois and commander of the Illinois National Guard, will be giving the flag back, marking his retirement from the military after nearly 40 years of service.

“It’s the symbology of one leader giving the flag up and one leader taking the flag,” Neely said, referring to his successor, Maj. Gen. Rodney Boyd, the assistant adjutant general. “One…of my priorities was to ensure the continuity of leadership.

“Our organization won’t miss a beat when that flag is passed.”

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The appointment of Boyd by Gov. JB Pritzker, who serves as commander-in-chief of the Illinois National Guard, makes history.

The Chicago native will be the first Black officer and person of color to command the guard, which includes about 13,000 soldiers and airmen and about 2,500 other federal and state employees.

Neely, a 57-year-old native of Easton, about an hour northwest of Springfield, has presided over one of the busiest times in the 301-year history of the Illinois National Guard.

Col. Bradford Leighton, a spokesman for the Illinois National Guard, pointed out that personnel supported 17 different domestic operations in 2020 and 2021. During the previous decade, it supported 13 domestic responses.

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Addressing COVID

The largest domestic operation activation in Illinois National Guard history came in response to the COVID pandemic. That’s when personnel performed 250,000 tests, delivered 8 million masks and administered 2 million vaccines.

“We’re not always the experts,” Neely admitted, “but we can help with large tasks. We can organize. We can prepare large logistics issues. That’s what COVID brought us.”

With testing and later with vaccinations, the Guard became a model for delivery.

More: Petition claims new evidence exonerates 3 suspects in 1996 murder case

“I was happy I was the one in the seat during COVID because it was a significant event,” Neely said. “I thought my experience helped me step through that process. We had a good team, but leadership needs to understand it quickly, make decisions and move out on things.”

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Deploying around the world

For the last two decades, the Illinois National Guard has been more of “an operational reserve (where in the past we were considered a strategic reserve,” Neely said.

That means personnel are deployed all the time.

“At any one time, 8 to 10% of 13,000 soldiers and airmen are deployed around the world doing global operations,” Neely said. “Before 9/11, that wasn’t so much the case.”

During Neely’s tenure, there have been almost 5,000 personnel federally deployed to 21 countries.

There’s a large presence in Eastern Europe, including Poland, “to ensure violence doesn’t extend out of Ukraine,” Neely said.

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More: Champion of students and teachers honored at Springfield area elementary school

The Illinois National Guard has had a relationship with the Polish military for 30-plus years through the State Partnership Program developed with Poland 30 years ago. It came about, Neely said, because of the Chicago area’s large Polish population.

While there are over 100 partnerships in 87 different countries, the Guard and Poland can claim “the gold standard,” Neely said.

Several years ago, Poland started a Territorial Defense Force, a light version of a National Guard, and Poles have been studying in Springfield to see how the Illinois National Guard trains its soldiers and officers.

In 2022, Neely was awarded the Polish Commanders Cross with Silver Star Order of Merit by President Andrjez Duda.

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“The recognition was about the entire organization,” Neely said.

In retirement

Neely said he started his military career “at the very bottom,” joining the Army Reserves the summer before his senior year of high school.

Neely, who later slid over to the Air Force side of the Illinois National Guard, joked that the military is “the family business.” Neely’s identical twin brother served in the military as did Neely’s three kids.

Admittedly, he never envisioned sitting in the adjutant general’s seat.

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“This is me winning the Lotto 10 times over to be able to lead at the end of my career,” Neely said.

A cybersecurity expert, Neely said he envisioned doing some national security work on the side in retirement.

“But it won’t be full time,” he said. “I promised my family I would pull back on the throttle.”

Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788; sspearie@sj-r.com; X, twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.





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New Illinois bill addresses health insurance concerns

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New Illinois bill addresses health insurance concerns


ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – Giving the power of quality health care access to patients and their doctors, a new health care bill makes its way through Illinois’ legislature.

The Healthcare Protection Act targets insurance companies that decide what treatment options a patient has, and how quickly they can be received. HPA passed the Illinois House of Representatives with an 81-25 vote. Receiving bipartisan support, Governor JB Pritzker says for too long, insurance agencies have made decisions that medical professionals are more qualified to make.

“We’re protecting Illinois families,” Pritzker says. “We’re talking to doctors and patients and consumers with one message: this bill will save lives and it will lower costs for millions of Illinoisians.”

Supporters say the bill would not only stop insurance companies from unfairly hiking rates, but it would also eliminate prior authorization for crisis mental health situations and ban what is known as step-therapy; when an insurance company requires a patient to use a cheaper, less-effective treatment than the one prescribed by a doctor.

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OSF Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lisa Davis says doctors would agree they spend too much time dealing with the red tape from insurance companies that could have been spent treating patients.

“Well, you need a prior authorization. We get the prior authorization, something comes up and now ‘Oh, it’s expired.’ Now you have to wait and do it again and the whole time the patients sitting here, but not getting the true care that they need,” Davis says.

HPA also puts an end to plans that don’t meet the minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act, joining 12 other states with the same ruling. The bill would also improve network adequacy, ensuring people can easily find healthcare professionals by requiring insurance companies to update their provider directories regularly to accurately show provider availability.

“We are requiring insurance companies to use the same treatment criteria to determine medical necessity that doctors do,” Pritzker says. “That way patients get what they need.”

HPA will also require insurance agencies to post which treatments need prior authorization. Should the bill pass the Senate, Illinois will be the first state to ban prior authorization when it comes to inpatient mental health.

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Expected to be discussed on the Senate floor in the coming months, HPA supporters are confident the bill will pass.



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