<
>

Illinois makes NCAA baseball tourney

Illinois will be the lone in-state representative playing in the NCAA baseball tournament after the brackets were revealed on Monday.

The Illini, who won the Big Ten's regular-season and conference titles, will meet CS Fullerton (40-15) in the Fullerton, Calif. regional on Friday. Kansas State (36-23) and Stanford (32-20) will play in the other regional matchup. The regional is double elimination.

The Illini are making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2000 and ninth in the program's history.

It is an unlikely appearance for Illinois. It fell to 12-21 on the season on April 23 and have since won 16 of its last 20 games. With three more wins to take the Big Ten tournament over the weekend, the Illini are riding an eight-game winning streak heading into the NCAA tournament.

Illinois was the lone Big Ten team selected.

"I think it's always a concern when you're struggling," Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said prior to the Big Ten tournament. "I continue to say it daily that I still believed in this team. I truly did. I've never seen any quit in this team. No one bailed out. No one wavered."

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.