Big Ten Tournament: Illinois vs. Michigan Preview

Posted on Posted in Michigan Basketball
The Big Ten champion Michigan Wolverines are ready to show why they are the top seed in this year’s conference tournament.  Coach of the Year John Beilein has the challenge of keeping his team focused and not being over confident after winning the regular season title by three games. They will face ninth-seeded Illinois, a team they beat last week, tomorrow at noon.

Michigan walked into the State Farm Center and dominated Illinois to win the Big Ten title outright. In an 84-53 victory, the Wolverines shot over 56% from the field and made a school record 16 three pointers. They were led by Big Ten Player of the Year Nik Stauskas, who was 7-9 from beyond the arc and totaled 24 points, had the game won at halftime. Caris LeVert added 15 points and Glenn Robinson III had 13 on a night where Michigan was unstoppable. Illinois was led by Rayvonte Rice with 16 and Kendrick Nunn with 14.

With Illinois winning five of their last six including a first round victory over Indiana the Wolverines better not overlook the Fighting Illini. Illinois jumped out to a quick lead then it was a battle the rest of the way. They were able to outlast the Hoosiers 64-54.

Will fatigue be an issue tomorrow after getting all they could handle from Indiana?  Rayvonte Rice is the leading scorer for Illinois averaging 15.7 this year, but Tracy Abrams had a sensational game today and will have to be accounted for by the Michigan defense. Michigan coming into the game with a conference record of 15-3 will be the favorite to win. If they want to move on they will have to take care of the ball, get contribution from the bench and have great shooting by Stauskas and company. He is averaging 17 points a game and will be expected to lead the team to victory.

Another key will be the mental aspect, not thinking back to the 31 point blowout earlier in the season but staying focused on this game. With great coaching and a team that is willing to put in the work, we should be watching the Wolverines in the semifinals.

Derek Devine
Institutional voice of Alma College during the day, Michigan fanatic at night. Taking TBHR to the next level one post at a time.