"Great team, great pieces. They played tremendous," Thomason said of the Hurricanes. "I'll be rooting for them the rest of the time, so maybe they can win a national championship. If I had to go out in coaching, you want to go out to a great team, but also to a great coach and a class coach, and Jim (Larranaga) is that."

After Illinois (23-12) let its big first-half lead slip away Friday, and Colorado (21-12) went ahead by 5, Illini senior guards Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson bailed out the Illini with consecutive 3-pointers with 6 minutes to play.

"It's March Madness," Paul said. "That stuff happens all the time."