isportsweb Senior Editor
Michigan vs. Illinois, 6:30pm, TV-Big Ten Network
Heading into Thursday’s opening round BTT game with Iowa most experts felt that if Michigan won the game they would be in the NCAA Tournament. We have gone over this time and time again in the last few days on isportsweb. If you want to refresh your memory on why they are projected in read this article which breaks down their NCAA resume.
Moving on. Iowa is in the rearview mirror. Next up, Illinois. Michigan split the season series with the Fighting Illini as both teams won at home. Illinois is a tough, well coached team. No doubt about it. Zipporah Porton, isportsweb’s lead correspondent for Illinois basketball, provides an in depth look at the Illinois side of this match up. You can read that here.
Last time Michigan was in consideration for an NCAA bid was 2006. That team came out and stunk up the joint in a first round loss to Minnesota and backed their way into the NIT. This team, coached by The Maestro, John Beilein, is starting to click on all cylinders. Michigan had 6 different players knock down a three pointer in the Iowa game. They dished out 22 assists on 29 field goals which is outstanding. They only committed 11 turnovers and they forced 9 steals and swatted 3 shots. Defensively they also frustrated the red hot Jake Kelly to a 3-11 shooting performance.
One thing about the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament is that all games are played on a neutral court. Advantage Michigan, they can play with and beat anybody on a neutral court. Don’t be surprised if they take down Illinois. The team is not content with the idea that beating Iowa was good enough. They want to make a serious run at the BTT championship and they are capable of doing it. Coach Beilein said after Michigan beat Duke, “If you believe in what you are doing you can beat anybody”.