Game 17: Michigan at Illinois Preview

Dylan Burkhardt

: Michigan (13-3) at Illinois (14-2)
Where: Assembly Hall, Champaign, IL
When: Wednesday, January 14th 8:30 ET
Last Meeting:  Michigan 74-64 — Post-Game, Preview
Spread: ILL by 6.5
Preview: Stat Sheet, U-M KenPom Profile, Illinois KenPom Profile
Radio: MGoBlue, WWJ-AM (950), WTKA-AM (1050)

Michigan heads to the other Assembly Hall to try and break an identical streak to the one they snapped in Bloomington last week. Michigan’s odds of pulling off a road win this week aren’t nearly as high as they were last week because Illinois looks to be a legitimate upper tier Big Ten team and they are going to want revenge.

“It’s definitely fresh in our minds,” senior guard Trent Meacham said. “They got a lot of guys that can shoot it. Not one of the guys hesitates to shoot the three. It makes it tough. They have different matchups and they cause mismatches. But we can do the same thing. Hopefully, we can make them pay for playing small.”

Illinois played only one game in the 10 days since their loss in Ann Arbor, a 76-45 drubbing of Indiana at home. Clearly this team isn’t going to be drastically different than the one we all saw in Ann Arbor 10 days ago, Illinois is still the same mid range jump shot shooting team that plays good defense. This game is going to come down to who can make the right adjustments, I usually like Beilein in this type of coaching battle. Last year three of Michigan’s five conference wins were in Michigan’s second meeting with a team and this year we managed to make the right adjustments against Duke, the only team we have played twice.

To win on the road, Michigan is going to need a defensive effort like the one they brought in the second half of the first Illinois game where they held the Illini to only 25 points on 33% shooting.  If they lose cutters and give up easy looks like they did in the first half the game will get out of hand quickly. Calvin Brock has been a constant thorn in Michigan’s side, they need to limit him and make Illinois earn all their points.

This one comes down to a battle of big versus small. Illinois wants to go big as much as possible and utilize Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis while Michigan wants to go small and spread the floor. In the first meeting, Bruce Weber was forced to match Michigan and only play one of his big men because Tisdale just didn’t have the speed to hang with Michigan’s quickness, even Zack Gibson beat him baseline for a slam. The two Illinois big men combined for only 17 points and 8 rebounds in the first meeting, I think Michigan would settle for this type of production again.

Offensively, Michigan played a very solid game in the first meeting but there were certainly a few things they could have done better. Chester Frazier and company did a very good job against Manny Harris and really kept him out of his game. I think Michigan is going to need Manny’s A+ game tonight if they are going to have a shot. Novak had a big game in the first meeting before being KO’d and forcing Gibson to step up. I am hoping Novak can get some revenge for those stitches in Champaign. This is a tough one for Sims because he is going up against guys that are bigger than him, the key is to force the Illinois bigs outside of their comfort zone on defense and make them guard you away from the block.

The guy who really killed Michigan last game was Demetri McCamey, McCamey had 11 points to go along with 10 assists, 0 turnovers, and 5 boards. McCamey is a tough match up for Michigan, a big point guard, but even McCamey had trouble hanging with Grady late in the game. Michigan has to hope McCamey doesn’t get hot with those line-drive three pointers early and try to contain him.

I really think that this is a game Illinois will win in a pretty comfortable fashion because Michigan has yet to prove they can win on the road. Assembly Hall is a tough place to play, and this Illinois teams wants to avenge a win that is still fresh on their minds. The key for Michigan is to stay cool and collected, play the game in 4 minute intervals, and just stay close to have a shot at the end. Stealing a road win here would go a long ways but this is one of Michigan’s toughest remaining games. Pomeroy puts the odds at only 16% and considers it Michigan’s third toughest game remaining.

Let’s hear your thoughts, predictions, and comments.

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  • JimC

    If this is really one of the toughest remaining games, then that’s probably the good news.
    IL by 14.

    Wonder if JB would consider changing the offense significantly to try to run up and down the court for 40 mins to exhaust their bigs. If we can get defensive rebounds, we have the guards to do that.

  • BJ

    A must win

  • Bluebufoon

    Is today the day Big Ben gets sliced and diced ?

  • Avery Queen

    Certainly not a must win, I imagine BJ was being sarcastic or something. If we do win however, then we are a damn good basketball team.

  • Aaron

    54-70 Illini. :-(

    Not a must win, but it would certainly boost our profile. Saturday at home, is more of a must win because we are expected to defend our home court.

  • Tom

    Not a must win, but I didn’t realized 7 of the last 11 games are on the road YIKES….Illinois by 10+

  • Kenny

    Michigan win by 2.

  • GBMDC02

    Yea this is the one I think is going to get real ugly…

    Illnois 81, Michigan 68, and it won’t be nearly that close.

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  • Giddings

    Isn’t it nice to finally have a game that we are expected to lose? The funny thing is that since we’re ranked and Illinois is not, the national media (read: ESPN) will call it an “upset” if Illinois wins. I can see the headline on right now: “Illinois upsets #24 Michigan behind McCamey’s 29”

    If the 3’s are falling, we have a chance. If not, we don’t. If we shoot, say, 40% or better from 3, we will be in it at the end. If we shoot 50% or better, we win the game. If we shoot less than 40%, no chance.

  • So, Giddings…if we make more baskets, we will win, right? ;)

    I badly want us to win- get that “haven’t won @ Ill in 15 years”-thing out of the way. The line is 6.5+ for Illinois, but i can easily see us losing by double digits.

    78-66, Fightin’ Ill’i’n’i”””


  • Dave P

    KenPom’s Michigan page is, in a word, brutal. He is clearly not bullish on our chances this year – he gives us a split with Northwestern, Minnesota, Penn St, and Ohio st, and not a single other win from here on out.

    That’s not surprising given where his overall ratings place us, so we’ll agree to disagree there. My question is about his final record projection though. Is that done partly on instinct? That seems unlikely given his numbers-focused approach, but the game-by-game projections do not come close to adding up to the final projection at the bottom.

    His projections would put us at 17-14 (7-11) (GULP), which i think it ridiculous. But the final projection actually listed is 19-12 (9-9), a little better but still tough to swallow.


  • Dave P: I’m pretty sure it is a statistical prediction based on the percentages… Some of the 47%s and such turn into wins in the predicted record. I don’t think there is any gut feeling/instinct effect because it’s all mathematical.

  • jg

    Dave P, like Dylan said it’s all mathematical.

    As for the projected record, here’s a basic example. Say you roll a die six times. If you roll a “1” or a “2” consider it a win. If you roll a “3” “4” “5” or “6” consider it loss. Also consider each roll a game. Now since the likelihood of rolling a “win” is 33.3% and the likelihood of rolling a “loss” 66.6%, a “team” would be predicted to “lose” each individual “game.” However over the course of the “season” (ie the six rolls) we would expect them to win two games and lose four.

    Mathematically, the expected win total is just the sum of each individual chance of winning (.33+.33+.33+.33+.33+.33)

    If you go to the ken pom page and add up all the percentages of winning for each of the remaining conference games, you’ll get our expected number of wins according to his formulas. Add that to the three wins we already have and you’ll get the 9-9 conference record he projects.

    hope that helps

  • rlc

    Pomeroy’s system is completely mechanical – he doesn’t adjust any of the predictions that fall out of the numbers.

    The thing to remember is that those numbers are still coming out of a small sample of games, played against a wide range of competition. The hope is that Michigan’s tendency to play down to the level of crappy teams is what’s depressing the team’s numbers, and that the true ability is somewhat higher. If we’re just a little better than the numbers predict, and we win all those games that Pomeroy gives us a 39% or better chance at, then we’re at 12-6 in conference! Woohoo! Sweet Sixteen here we come!

  • El Capitan

    I posted earlier that Illinois would pull ahead late and win 77-71, but based on everybody’s pessimism about the game tonight, it looks like we will pull this one out. Beilein’s teams never perform like they are expected to, and since we expect them to lose, he’s going to pull another rabbit out of a hat.

    Novak goes off for 20, Manny and Peedi do their thing, and STU comes out of his shell and puts up double figures.

    Michigan 79
    Illinois 64

  • jg

    Another note on the kenpom ratings. Right now OSU is vastly overrated. The ratings don’t take into account that Miami’s best player missed most of the their game and that david lighty is currently sidelined for a couple more weeks.

  • blueinflorida

    I feel like the general consensus among Michigan fans regarding tonight’s game is “Don’t expect to win, hopefully we don’t get blown off the court, coming back home 3-2 in conference is alright.” I say screw that. We beat this team by 10 at home. Let’s go ahead and beat them again.

  • Chuck

    I’m also wondering about the pessimism. Maybe I’m wering maize and blue glasses, but I think M did it once and can do it again.

  • KJay
  • jmblue

    While I think it’s possible to win this one, I wouldn’t put too much stock in the final score of the last meeting. We ended the game on a 10-0 run. At no point before that were we up by that much.

  • Nice link with the Regan video Kjay!

  • Ky Fox

    In regards to a couple posts ago( I think it was the West Va vs UM stats) I hope that in the future JB will balance this team out a bit. My hopes are that he lags guys like manny, JoMo, and Peedi back to scrap for some offensive boards. Im guessing he darts everyone back on defense because the way our roster is put together. I trust JB’s program but to make eventual deep runs in the tourney(final four’s) we cant live and die by these stats. We can defintley do some damage in the tourney, but to run with the big dogs we have got to resemble a little more post prescense. There are many different avenues to go down in terms of winning basketball games, making tourney runs and building a program. There is all different sorts of recipe’s you can use to get success, but the deeper you go into the National scene the more and more of those few common denomanators become amplified..(post play, the ability to rebound, pretty good man to man defense) I think JB will eventually put another twist on his stamp on this program. By next year (with another solid recruiting class) I believe we will have a roster that will help balance things out a little, and all it will do is make us more diverse, we will be able to play to any style we come up against. GO BLUE. UM 73, ILL 69

  • Robert 04

    January 14, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I actually believe that Peedi is the best and most important player on the team. Manny is more versatile and perhaps more “talented” because he can dish, score, and rebound. If Manny doesn’t get to the line, he usually has to force the action (read:take bad shots/threes). I believe that until Manny is a consistent shooter from 15 (really 18+) he will not be our best player when not getting to the line. Manny gets others involved and rebounds so he is definitely important. But if he’s not scoring off steals or drives then he sometimes seems like a lesser option than Lucas Perry (who gets more driving the lane calls) or gasp (rarely) CJ LEE. Deshawn on the other hand = Duke Game. When he is on the post and with the fadeaway/turnaround jumper as well as rebounds, he makes us more formiddable. Gibson can’t approach Peedi. LLP can somewhat be Manny (I understand he doesn’t rebound or involve others as well but otherwise he drives and gets steals).
    I believe Deshawn has more NBA potential RIGHT NOW. R-I-G-H-T N-O-W. Manny to me is an undersized poor man’s Josh Howard with a streakier shot. He’ll stick in the league but be a poor worse shooting version of Rodney Stuckey (before Rip Hamilton got hurt)

  • Bluebufoon

    Link on Matt Vogrich versus Angus Brandt last night with John beilein in the house. Dylan have you corresponded with that Daniel Poneman fellow lately — would love to hear what he thinks about Angus Brandt’s recruitment ?

  • jwalk

    First off, followed the site for awhile but this is the 1st post. Thanks for & congrats on the site Dylan, it’s certainly growing in popularity.

    On the game: I think it’s close but ILL wins 74 – 71

    On the auctions–interesting that all the jerseys are being auctioned but there’s nothing yet about the shorts (which can be seen in the zoomed picture). I’d rather have the shorts….

  • Erik

    I like how that auction is for #44 when the photo is clearly #42.

  • KJay

    Erik, I think the jerseys being auctioned are the ones that will be worn by the players on Sat night, so 44 would be Grady’s. However, the one in the picture is an actual jersey from the ’89 team, I believe Eric Riley’s.

  • jmblue

    Yep, Riley wore #42. I’m trying to remember the other guys’ numbers. I think these are correct:

    Rice – #41
    Vaught – #35
    Mills – #52
    Hughes – #55

    I’m drawing a blank on the rest.

  • Sheryl

    Am I missing it or is there not one for Stu? I notice there is for Shep but not Wright.

  • Sheryl

    Don’t see Gibson either?

  • Merlin

    I don’t think we will win tonight.

    Kendall Gill is on the BTN pregame show. He has to be one of the worst analysts.

    Why are we still looking at Angus Brandt? Where is the scholarship going to come from?

  • UMDC

    I’m predicting tonight’s game as a 77-74 win for us. I think our only chance to win this thing is if we get into a more uptempo game with quite a bit of scoring. So, that’s what I think is going to happen.

  • GoBlue

    Could someone please provide a link to an online stream of the game? Dont get BTN here in Phoenix.


  • jg

    Not sure why nobody has mentioned this, maybe it’s because we’ve had some recent success against Illinois at home, but we haven’t won in Champaign since winning 69-59 during the 1994-95 season, which also just happens to be the last time we had won in Bloomington before last week.

    We’ve lost 11 straight there by an average of over 15 ppg.

    It’s just not an easy place to play.

  • blueinflorida

    anyone have a stream for the game tonight?

  • UMDC

    Here is a link from someone over on MGOBLOG:

    It’s showing the MSU game now, I hope it stays on for our game.

  • Giddings

    Wow, regarding the auctions… is there any question that Zack Novak is a fan favorite?

  • Adam

    Solid first half. We actually made McCamey make some tough shots, that won’t continue in the 2nd half. I love the way Gibson is playing tonight. Their doing a great job on Manny but it’s great experience for other guys like LLP and Zack to step up. I’d like DeShawn to hit a couple early shots and get some stops and force Illinois to play from down more than 2 or 3.

  • JRose

    Sims has laid an egg…how many bunnies can one guy miss? They just aren’t hitting any open shots. We still must remember that LLp is only a freshman and will have off games, but Sims has to show up everynight. Gotta get some stops and hit some shots! Go blue!

  • Jay

    I understand people can have bad games, its expected from time to time. But Deshawn just look like a ghost tonight. Not aggressive and refusing to take Frankenstein off the dribble for some reason/

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