Basketball: Michigan Likely #1 After 74-60 Win Over Illinois

Not since the days of the Fab Five has the Michigan Men’s Basketball team been the top ranked team in the country. There is a very good chance that changes tomorrow.

The #2 Wolverines went down to Champaign, Illinois Sunday night and beat a struggling Illini team 74-60 in dominating fashion.

In a game where Trey Burke led the team in scoring with 19 points, he was almost an afterthought tonight. This was a total team victory for the Wolverines, led by freshmen Nik Stauskas (14 pts) and Glenn Robinson III (12 pts).

Junior center Jordan Morgan went down with an ankle injury 90 seconds into the game, which gave Michigan a chance to showcase the big men on their bench.

Mitch McGary was again a spark for the Wolverines, being the first guy off the bench after Morgan’s injury, with 6 points and 8 rebounds in 16 minutes.

The guy that was really able to step up in the absence of Jordan Morgan was sophomore Jon Horford. He chipped in with 7 points and 5 rebounds in 17 minutes. Hell, even freshman Max Bielfeldt got in on the fun tonight with 4 points in 6 minutes (and a hilarious sequence of two trips to the free throw line).

Two of the key things that Michigan had to do defensively was improve their perimeter defense, which they did today (Illinois shot only 24% from beyond the arc), and shut down senior guard Brandon Paul. While Paul did have 15 points, he was only 5-12 from the field and was not really much of a factor in this game.

Something that was said during the game broadcast really hit home with me. Michigan has three players (Hardaway, Robinson, and Horford) that come from NBA pedigrees. It would be very easy for these guys to feel privileged and be selfish players, but that could not be further from the truth.  This team is full of guys that will sell-out for the best interests of getting that win. It is a big reason that the Wolverines are one of the best teams in the country.

Five Observations from Tonight’s Game

Fellow Bleed Blue contributor Adam Midden was actually in Champaign for the game tonight and these were five things he noticed from Michigan’s 74-60 victory.

  • The trio of McGary, Horford, and Bielfeldt was huge in this game tonight filling in for Jordan Morgan.
  • The switch to zone defense in the first half made a big difference for the Wolverines. Zone pressure in the second half helped them open up the lead.
  • McGary’s tip back was a huge turning point in the second half of the game.
  • Trey Burke and Glenn Robinson III were fantastic tonight, but the MVP of the game was Nik Stauskas.
  • The freshmen continue to come up big for the Wolverines. McGary, Stauskas, and Robinson combined for 32 points tonight.

Michigan’s next game is Wednesday night against Northwestern. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30pm and it will be on the Big Ten Network.


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