The Illinois Fighting Illini lost to the #7 Michigan Wolverines, 71-58, in Ann Arbor on Sunday.
With the loss on Sunday, Illinois’ winning streak ends at five games which started with their upset win over the #1 Indiana Hoosiers. Michigan has now won the last five games against Illinois.
Everyone knew that the biggest player coming into Sunday was Trey Burke. Burke is having a really nice season and could arguably win the Wooden Award this season.
The last time against Illinois, he went 7-of-19 from the field, scored 19 points, grabbed five rebounds, and dished out five assists.
Burke played 39 minutes for the Wolverines on Sunday and had an even better game than he had in “Round One.” On Sunday, Burke shot a lot better from the field as he made eight out of eleven shots (72.7%). He also went to the foul line and made eight out of ten free throws (80%).
Overall, Trey Burke’s line looked very nice with 26 points, eight assists, and three rebounds. On top of all that, he only turned the ball over once against the Fighting Illini. He also joined Phil Hubbard, Mike McGee, Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Louis Bullock and Manny Harris as the sophomores to have scored 1,000 points at Michigan.
Tim Hardaway Jr. also played well for Michigan on Sunday against Illinois. He only made 4-of-11 shots, but still managed to score 13 points. He also led the team with a total of seven rebounds.
In the first half of Sunday’s game, it looked like the Fighting Illini could actually beat the Wolverines. Illinois lead at the half, 31-28.
However, #7 Michigan came out firing on all cylinders to open the second half. They started the half on a 15-3 run.
Illinois tried to pull back in the game. They pulled within four points of the Wolverines, but Burke had all the answers and made sure Michigan would win the game.
Head coach John Groce mentioned that he believed that the Wolverines came out tougher and smarter in the second half.
Illinois had three players reach double-figures, but did not shoot well overall.
D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul, and Tracy Abrams all led the team with 10 points apiece. They made a combined eleven shots on Sunday. Paul even got into foul trouble and finished the game with four personal fouls.
This was a game that Illinois needed to win. They were playing so well coming into Sunday’s game (give-or-take the Penn State game). On the flip side, Michigan was struggling coming into Sunday. They were 1-3 before their previous win over Penn State and had not won back-to-back games since the end of January.
Point being, the Fighting Illini had a chance to get a win against a Top 10 team and boost their tournament resume. Are they still going to make the tournament? Yes, but how will this game affect their seeding? Right now, Illinois is a projected 8th seed and the loss to Michigan should push them back to a projected 9th or 10th seed.
Illinois still has another chance during the regular season to play a ranked opponent. They will play #18 Ohio State to end the season in Columbus on March 10th.
In the end, Illinois will most likely make the National Tournament, but made it harder for them to be higher than an 8th seed this year.
For some fan reactions to Sunday’s game, click here.
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