Illini earn No. 1 seed in 2021 NCAA tournament

With the Fighting Illini winning the Big Ten conference tournament and getting a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Illini alums and students are excited.

Video Transcript

- [INAUDIBLE] look online to what we have.

JOHN GARCIA: It was the first day of being open for business for the Illini store, a pop-up shop in Lincoln Park.

- Big Ten Tournament champion.

JOHN GARCIA: Good timing. With the Fighting Illini winning the Big Ten Conference tournament and getting a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, Illini fever right now is running high. The line was out the door and around the block.

STEVEN FARAG: We started painting Thursday night and by Sunday morning at noon this was open.

LAKEN BROWNING: It's crazy. I mean, people who are rooting for Illinois have been waiting for this for so long that there's so much hype, there's so much magic in the air.

JOHN GARCIA: It's the most excitement surrounding Illini basketball since 2005, the year they made it to the national championship game. Even though the Big Ten championship was on a neutral court yesterday in Indianapolis, most of the fans allowed in were rooting for the orange and blue. Illini all-time leading scorer Deon Thomas played in the '90s and says this might be the best team in school history.

DEON THOMAS: As a former player how excited as I am-- how excited I am about this, I mean, it's crazy right now.

- The Chicago area has the largest concentration of University of Illinois alumni. The Chicago Alumni Club has hosted watch parties all season at numerous bars and restaurants in the city and suburbs. They say it's a great time to wear the orange and blue this year. And basketball success is a great thing for the entire University community.

KURT HANSEN: Hugh for Illinois fandom, huge for the alums, definitely about resparking some of that Illini pride that's been a little bit dormant.

JOHN GARCIA: A lot of basketball fans consider the University of Illinois to be the best program never to have won a national championship. Of course, they're hoping to change that this year. And if so, the store will be ready with orange and blue national championship t-shirts ready to go.