So it will be North Carolina against Illinois for all the marbles tonight. As Michael Bérubé notes, the Illini victory against Louisville was probably abetted by the fact that they left Chief Illiniwek at home.
Here’s a short essay about the Chief by Philip Phillips, a physicist at UIUC. Philip was one of the Illinois faculty who won a legal case against the University administration after the latter tried to forbid them from contacting athletes the University was trying to recruit. It was a brilliant idea, really: just call up all the high school basketball and football players that were targeted by UIUC, and explain to them the travesty of the Chief. Stuff that would normally go under the protection of “free speech,” but the University claimed that it would be in violation of NCAA regulations. Usually those regulations are trying to limit the ability of different schools to attract athletes, not keep them away, but it was a convenient excuse.