While much of the land of Lincoln celebrated Saturday's clinching game, stateline Illinois graduates savored the sweet taste of Illinois' first Final Four in 16 seasons.
1967 graduate Jerry Beger, a member of the Rockford Area Illini Club, says the 100th season of Illini basketball was one for the ages. He says the 450 strong area alumni are active year round, including fundraisers to provide scholarships for five incoming freshman.
For athletics, more than 100 frequented Garrett's restaurant this winter for basketball game days, and with their beloved Illini in the Final Four, Beger believes at least 60 local alumni will make the trek to St. Louis. He says the challenge now is finding a hotel and a reasonably priced ticket.
“We're keeping in touch with groups and other alumni clubs in the Chicago area as well in planning events and activities, so hopefully we can get a good group down to St. Louis," Beger said.
In 2002, the Rockford Area Illini Club was awarded as one of the nation's most outstanding large city alumni clubs. There are about 90 Illini alumni clubs that exist in the country.
According to eBay, upper level tickets to the final four are going for $900 each. At Rockford's BMC Tickets, comparable seats at the Edward Jones dome are running anywhere from $885 to $1,105.