"Illinois coping with season's bitter end" / Detroit Free Press

Visitors to this midwestern city are often surprised at how big the famous Arch is. No kidding. Monday night, an entire state squeezed through it.

Illinois lost a virtual home game, 75-70, to North Carolina. Much of the nation predicted the outcome, but in the neighboring state of Illinois, a Fighting Illini loss was hard to comprehend.

If you believe in destiny, you must understand it can't be cloned. And North Carolina, in many ways, seemed as inevitable a champion as Illinois. But rarely has a state fallen for a team like Illinois fell for these Illini.