Two games' worth of insights

Updated: February 18, 2005, 2:00 AM ET
By Elena Bergeron, Bruce Feldman and Ed McGregor | Special to ESPN Insider
Editor's note: ESPN The Magazine went behind the scenes with Illinois. Be sure to check out the behind-the-scenes look at the team's support staff.

What's it take to be No. 1? How does a team with a bull's-eye on its back keep a perfect season alive? Can a school that's never won the NCAA Tournament go all the way?

To find out, we went to Champaign, Ill., with an all-access pass for a two-game, home-road stretch in early February. We were embedded with the Illini at home and at practice, in team meetings and strategy sessions, on the ground and in the air.