Mar 1, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward/center Nnanna Egwu (32) reacts to a play during the 2nd half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Illinois won 53-46. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball: Keys to Victory Against the Michigan Wolverines

Stay out of foul trouble: It seems like a no-brainer. Of course, the Illinois Fighting Illini will need to stay out of foul trouble in order to have a chance to upset the #12 Michigan Wolverines on Tuesday night. More importantly, Nnanna Egwu will have to stay out of foul trouble so that he can help the Illini win by staying on the court. There have been so many games this season where Nnanna received two early fouls and then sat on the bench until halftime. That cannot happen on Tuesday if the Illini want to upset the Wolverines. Egwu needs to be on the court especially with the absence of Michigan’s Mitch McGary (out since December with back injury).

Defense, Defense, Defense: What’s the main reason why the Illinois Fighting Illini beat #18 Michigan State on Saturday? Defense. Despite their poor performance in conference play, Coach Groce has preached defense all season long. That’s probably why Illinois ranked 21st nationally in defensive efficiency (94.3) before their matchup with the Spartans on Saturday. Illinois has also held their last four opponents to under 50 points and will look to make it five against #12 Michigan on Tuesday.

Avoid costly turnovers: Although the Illini got the win on Saturday, costly turnovers seemed to keep MSU in the game. Illinois built up their 21-9 lead early in the first half by taking care of the basketball. Up until that point, the Illini only turned the ball over two times. Then, coming out of the Michigan State timeout, Illinois turned the ball over six times and allowed the Spartans to tie the game at 28 at the half. Yes, Illinois won the game in East Lansing, but #12 Michigan is a completely different team. If Illinois wants the win over the Wolverines, they’ll need to take care of the basketball. Plain and simple.

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Tags: Basketball Illinois Fighting Illini Nnanna Egwu

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