"Roger Powell made all the difference" / Star Tribune

All season, Illinois anticipated what CBS calls "The March to the Arch," and now that Roger Powell had waited patiently through foul trouble, had finally gotten back into a game that had become way too close for the Illini's taste, he was ready to make sure this was a bus trip worth $2.25 a gallon.

So he made the March to the Arch worthwhile with the Loop to the Hoop.

Under the Arch - St. Louis' shrine to westward expansion and riverboat casinos? That was Powell territory Saturday, just as the Illini has made the Midwest its postseason step stool.

Illinois has become the DMV's favorite team, spending the last month on buses to Chicago for the Big Ten tournament, Indianapolis for an NCAA subregional, Chicago for the regional and now St. Louis for the Final Four.

Their final trip, the one that could establish them as one of the best teams of this generation, will require just another short bus ride from their team hotel to the Edward Jones Dome on Monday - and probably a few more surprises from Minister Powell.