Four teams with many Chicagoans vie for Final Four spot in Midwest Regional at United Center

CHICAGO (CBS) – March Madness continued Thursday with the Sweet 16, and while there are no more local teams, the tournament is being played in Chicago.

Four teams are vying for a spot in the Midwest Regional Final Four at the United Center, and Chicago basketball fans have plenty to put down roots here at the United Center, too.

Corliss High School alumnus George Corbitt is a key contributor to the Iowa State Cyclones. They will face Morgan Park alum Charlie Moore and the University of Miami late Friday night.

Kansas also has many connections to Chicago. Along with Bolingbrook alum Joseph Yesufu is super-senior Jalen Coleman-Lands. Coleman-Lands, who also played for Illinois, was Charlie Moore’s teammate for two seasons at DePaul.

Both have benefited from the new, looser transfer rules and the extra year of COVID eligibility playing a key role for successful teams.

For Moore and Coleman-Lands, this is stop number four. And what a way for the two friends to wrap things up, back in Chicago, playing for a chance at the Final Four.

“We’re rooting. Like we know how hard we’ve worked on and off the court, and like what Charlie means even to Chicago and the city — and playing with sides like that — but I always stay in touch. Charlie and I root it,” Coleman-Lands said.

“It’s a blessing to play here. You know, I’m from Chicago. I grew up watching Chicago basketball; I grew up going to games, and now playing on the court, you know, with my teammates, it’s amazing,” Moore said.

This is all familiar territory for Kansas and its head coach Bill Self, both in the tournament and on the venue.

Self, who coached the Illini from 2000 to 2003, was in the Sweet 16 thirteen times – winning 10 of those games. He also has great memories of great games at UC.

“When I was in Champaign, of course, we used to come into town a lot – and you don’t care about that, but ever since you asked – every time I drove and saw the skyline, I thought, man, over there “There are things going on in this town. That’s where the action is – whether it’s recruiting, business or whatever,” Self said, “and I’ve always loved that. I love Chicago. We had some great games here when I coached at the United Center, and the Illini certainly supported us, the fans certainly supported us in an incredible way in this building, so I have very fond memories of the United Center.

Interestingly, Self had doubts about moving from Illinois to Kansas. He was, of course, very successful at Kansas, but it’s been 14 years since he won his only title at KU — which counts as a drought in Kansas basketball time.


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