Michigan Basketball (23-7, 15-3) will begin postseason play on Friday when they play Illinois (19-13, 7-11) in a Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal matchup. Tip is scheduled for noon and the game will be televised on ESPN.
Illinois knocked off Indiana in the 8/9 game on Thursday. They head into this quarterfinal matchup hoping for a win that would land them on or at least near the bubble. The Illini are led by Rayvonte Rice (15.7 ppg) and Tracy Abrams (10.5 ppg). They’ll shoot an abundance of three pointers and if they get hot, they can be a tough team to beat.
Michigan is ready to run
The high-flying Wolverines are playing outstanding basketball right now. The outright Big Ten champs are oozing with confidence and if anything are underrated heading into the postseason.
Since starting the season with a 6-4 record, Michigan has gone 17-3. They have done it by playing unselfish, team-first basketball. These guys truly don’t care who leads the team in scoring or who hits the big shot, they just want to win. They play so well together and the positive momentum surrounding this team is obvious.
Of course it doesn’t hurt to have the Big Ten Player of the Year, Nik Stauskas, leading the charge. The sensational sophomore does it all. He leads Michigan in scoring (17.4) and assists (3.5). He’s also the only player in the Big Ten to rank among the top 11 for field goal percentage (48.9), three-point percentage (45.8) and free throw percentage (81.1).
Caris LeVert, an All-Big Ten Second Team selection, is another jack of all trades. He finished the regular season averaging 13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
Illinois is hanging on to their NCAA hopes by a very thin thread and will undoubtedly come out fired up. I wouldn’t be surprised if they jumped out to an early lead. However, Michigan is too talented and too deep. They’ll eventually wear down the Illini with their precision and execution. Look for the Wolverines to pull out a 10 point win, say 72-62.
After beating Illinois, Michigan will play the winner of Nebraska vs Ohio State on Saturday. That game will tip at 1:40 pm.
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