Michigan Basketball will play at Illinois on Sunday with a shot at #1 in the balance. The game will tip off at 6:06 pm (EST) and be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Michigan enters the game ranked #2 in the AP Poll and #3 in the Coaches Poll. They are 18-1 and 5-1 in the Big Ten. In their last game, the Wolverines exacted revenge for their only home loss in the past two seasons when they beat Purdue. Now, they will get a chance to payback John Groce, who was the head coach of the Ohio Bobcats last year and sent Michigan packing in the NCAA Tournament. Groce knows he has his work cut out for him game planning against this year’s Michigan team. “Obviously they’re a load,” he said in a press conference on Friday. “They’re terrific at both ends of the court, they’ve got great personnel. They’re very well coached, they don’t have a lot of weaknesses.”
Groce got Illinois off to a sizzling 13-1 start in the non-conference portion of their schedule. The Big Ten hasn’t been so kind to the Illini who are just 2-4 in conference games. Prior to winning at Nebraska on Tuesday, Illinois had lost 3 straight Big Ten games. They are of course led by senior guard Brandon Paul who is averaging 18 points per game.
Few teams, just 6 in fact, shoot more three-pointers than Illinois. If they heat up from beyond the arc, they can beat anybody, just ask Ohio State, Gonzaga, and Butler.
Michigan is simply one of the elite teams in the country. There isn’t anybody who is better than the Wolverines are offensively. They lead the country in points per possession (1.23), they rank 4th nationally in field goal percentage (50.9) and 7th in three-point percentage (41.1). They don’t turn the ball over and nobody in the country commits fewer fouls than Michigan.
Trey Burke is a national player of the year candidate and a maestro directing the Wolverines offense. Burke ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring (17.8). He also leads the conference and ranks 9th nationally in assists (7.2). He is looking to become the first Big Ten player since Magic Johnson to average over 17 points and 7 assists per game.
Freshman big man Mitch McGary has steadily seen his minutes rise. He logged a season-high 21 minutes in Michigan’s last game against Purdue. McGary is a force on the glass, has displayed good shot blocking ability and uncommon athleticism for a man of his size (6-10, 250). He also plays with a relentless mindset and sparks the team with his gregarious personality.
Predictions: So far this season I am 18-1 and Joe is 17-2 predicting the outcome of Michigan Basketball games. We both like the Wolverines to pick up a key road win against Illinois.
Joe: Michigan 75-66
Rob: Michigan 83-67
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