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The Illini will begin 2018 by returning to Big Ten play against Minnesota, which features a fantastic rebounder in Jordan Murphy.

In other H&R sports news, the Macon County Girls Basketball Tournament will begin Wednesday, the LSA boys basketball team began the new year with an offensive outburst, the Bears are hanging their hopes on Mitch Trubisky going forward, and the St. Louis Blues won an overtime thriller thanks to their goalie.

Illini facing Rodman-like rebounder

When Illini coach Brad Underwood looks at Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy, he sees a player who has many of Rodman’s rebounding traits.

The 6-foot-6 Murphy has been an undeniable force for the Golden Gophers this season. He has posted a double-double in all 15 of Minnesota’s games and is averaging 19.1 points and 12.6 rebounds, the second-best rebounding total in the country.

“Murphy has great timing, great hands and that ‘it’ factor because the ball finds him,” Underwood said as Illinois prepares for the resumption of Big Ten play Wednesday in Minneapolis.

And for more Illini from H&R Executive Sports Editor Mark Tupper, check out this week's Riding Shotgun with Tupper.

LSA opens the new year with a win

The LSA boys basketball team withstood a barrage of 3-pointers and a late run from Champaign Judah Christian to open 2018 with a 77-66 win on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, Clinton posted one of its best wins of the year, handing LeRoy its third loss behind three players in double figures scoring.

Macon County girls tournament set to begin

The Tri-City/Sangamon Valley girls are 12-1 and fresh off a win at their own holiday tournament, beating a solid Mount Pulaski team by 20 in the title game.

But despite the history and the hot start, TCSV is the second seed behind traditional tournament powerhouse Central A&M, which has an 8-6 record.

"That surprises me a little bit," said Tornadoes coach Tony Nika said as his team heads into this week's Macon County Tournament.

It's on Trubisky now

No matter who the Chicago Bears hire as their next head coach, it's on quarterback Mitch Trubisky's shoulders now to take the franchise back to success.

Columnist Brad Biggs writes: There is so much belief that the Bears raised the stakes with Trubisky and then doubled down on him during an eventful Black Monday at Halas Hall. Coach John Fox was fired and general manager Ryan Pace had his contract extended two years through the 2021 season after the two men collaborated on a 14-34 record over three seasons.

In other Bears news, former linebacker Brian Urlacher is finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Blues earn shootout win

St. Louis goalie Carter Hutton stopped 24 shots through overtime and both attempts he faced in the shootout to help the Blues to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

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