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Big Ten Tournament 2012: Illinois Tries To Make Up For Miserable Second Half In The Conference Tournament

The Illinois Fighting Illini are down but not out. The Illini take on Iowa in the Big 10 Tournament on Thursday.

The Illinois Fighting Illini have had a lot of proud moments during head coach Bruce Weber's nine seasons in charge, but the end of the 2011-2012 regular season can't be counted among them. It wasn't long ago this season that the Illini were ranked in the polls and looked like a safe bet to cash an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. After ending the season losing eight of their last nine games, Illinois is now left wondering how it all went wrong. Weber is likely wondering when -- not if -- he'll be released coach.

There's still work to be done this season, though, and the Big 10 Tournament offers Weber and Illinois one last chance at salvation. The Illini tip-off their first round matchup against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Thursday in Indianapolis. The 8-9 matchup is the first game of the conference tournament.

The Illini's one win since the end of January actually did come against these Hawkeyes during a 65-54 victory in Champaign on Feb. 26. Even with the loss, the end to the Iowa's season was decidedly more impressive than Illinois'. The Hawkeyes can count wins over Wisconsin and Indiana in the second half of February, and nearly busted Northwestern's bubble in the regular season finale on March 3.

Game date/time: 10:30 a.m., Thursday, March 8, 2012

Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Ind.

TV: Big 10 Network

Radio: Illini Sports Network

For more on this game stay with SB Nation Chicago. For more on the Illini check out Hail to the Orange. News and notes on college hoops teams around the country can be found at SB Nation's college basketball news hub.