BTT Game 2: Michigan vs. Illinois Preview

Dylan Burkhardt
B10 Iowa Michigan BasketballBasics:
: Michigan (20-12) vs. Illinois (23-8)
Where: Conseco Field House, Indianapolis, IN
When: Friday, March 13th, 6:30 PM ET
Spread: Illinois by 2.5
Preview: Stat Sheet, U-M KenPom Profile, Illinois KenPom Profile
: MGoBlue, WWJ-AM (950), WTKA-AM (1050)
Last Time:
Preview / Recap
First Time:
Preview / Recap

The first two meetings between Michigan and Illinois this year were mirror images. The road team led each game at the halftime break before letting the game slip away down the stretch. Now it is time for the rubber match on a neutral court. I can’t think of a better way to settle the score.

Michigan appears to be playing their best basketball down the stretch while Illinois’ season ended in what can’t be called anything other than disappointment as they fell out of the conference championship race losing 3 of their last 5 games. Michigan has already played a game in Conseco so they will be used to the environment and DeShawn Sims thinks this is an advantage:

“I think if an upper seed sees a team compete like we competed against Iowa, it would want to have played a game first,” said Sims, who scored the Wolverine’s first 14 points. “It’s hard to play in tournaments when a team has already played and they’re already loose.”

The final developing story is that Chester Frazier is doubtful with a “severely bruised hand”. Frazier only scored 6 points combined in the first two meetings but he played 66 minutes and is one of the best defenders in the conference and his absence will be felt by the Illini. Here is a good article about the Frazier injury with quotes from Bruce Weber, Manny, Douglass, and others. It is always tough to see a players career end with an injury like this. Frazier is easily one of the best defenders in the league even if he doesn’t get as much love from ESPN as a media darling like Chris Kramer.

Update 12:36 PM: Per Erin Andrews on ESPN, Chester Frazier is out today and possibly for the whole weekend. Calvin Brock (along with Legion and Jordan) will be the guy to fill in for Frazier.

Update: 4:07 PM: Erin Andrews just reported that Frazier had surgery on his hand and will most likely be out for the entire weekend. The hope is that he will be able to play in the NCAA tournament.

Illinois Strengths:

  • Defense: Illinois has the #4 defense in the country in terms of adjusted efficiency and #9 according to effective field goal percentage allowed. Baskets don’t come easy against Illinois, no doubt about that. Illinois doesn’t force a lot of turnovers but they also don’t let their opponents get to the line.
  • Three point defense: Illinois holds their opponents to 28.5% from behind the arc (3rd nationally).
  • Size: Tisdale and Davis have a lot of size inside and that will definitely test Michigan. When they play both at the same time it is almost impossible for Michigan to guard them. I think we will see a lot of zone, the 2-3 seems to be the zone of choice when opponents have a lot of size.

Illinois Weaknesses:

  • Getting to the line: The Illini rank dead last (344th) in the NCAA in free throw rate. They are a team that lives on the mid-range jump shot and that just isn’t a strategy that gets you to the line. In many ways they are a perimeter oriented team that doesn’t shoot that many three point shots.
  • Offensive Rebounding: Despite their size, Illinois is only a mediocre rebounding team. They rebound 30.6% of their misses (251st nationally) and 67.8% of their opponents misses (143rd).

Hopefully we see more of the dominant DeShawn Sims that we have seen for the last several games. Peedi has decided that he is going to be the best player on the court because of his talent, will, and focus and it is paying off. He has the chance to make up for one of his worst performances of the year (7 pts, 3-14 shooting, 2 rebounds) and I think he will be the catalyst for any Michigan success today.

In Michigan’s last four wins they have shot over 40% from three point range and that is definitely a key. I think that the higher shooting percentage is a sign of getting better looks more than some miraculous shooting improvement. Laval Lucas-Perry, Zack Novak, and Stu Douglass need to be ready to go because if they are all hitting their shots then opponents have to guard all of them, not just worry about one.

This post will serve as an open thread for all of today’s action. I also updated the bracketology links on the sidebar, Michigan looks to be right around the 9/10 seed line. Let’s hear your thoughts and predictions in the comments.

Pre-Game Reading (updated throughout the day):

Bubble Viewers Guide:

  • Minnesota vs. Michigan State – 12 PM ESPN
  • Virginia Tech vs. UNC – 12 PM ESPN2 (Lawson is OUT)
  • Ohio State vs. Wisconsin – 2:30 PM ESPN – I think the loser will at least sweat on Sunday
  • Mississippi State vs South Carolina – 3:15 PM ESPN360
  • Kentucky vs. LSU – 1PM ESPN360
  • Temple vs. Xavier – 6:30 PM
  • Maryland vs. Wake Forest – 7PM ESPN2
  • San Diego State vs BYU – 9PM CSTV
  • New Mexico St. at Utah St. – 9PM
  • Penn St. vs. Purdue -9PM BTN
  • Florida vs. Auburn – 9:45 PM ESPN360
  • Eastern Washington at St. Mary’s – 10:00 PM
  • Andrew

    Sims is playing so terrible.

  • Alex

    yikes this is plain ugly

  • Andrew


  • BL11

    Its funny how much this team goes as sims goes….its manny’s team but sims is the key….and it was obvious when sims starting chuckin jumpers to start that he didnt want to bang down low today…gunna sweat a lil on sunday now…really didnt want to have to.

  • Avery Queen

    well hopefully we can get some damage control here

  • JRose5

    Anyone else think maybe we should have rested a few guys yesterday rather than attempt to win by 30. A lot of short jump shots…which usually means tired legs. Frazier out and Manny still can’t shake a defender….a great player finds ways to get his. Lets at least get the score around 10 so it doesn’t look like the blowout it is. Here’s to bid come Sunday!
    Go Blue!!

  • JRose5

    Let’s get it to 10 with 5 to go!


    We need to learn to bring it every time down the court, offensively, and defensively…regardless if we are up by 10 or 15, or down by 10 or 15. We need to match their aggressiveness, That will come with experience. That coupled with our lack of size is attributing to the way this game is being played out.

  • bentley

    i hate to say it…. but I feel like JB had some real questionable rotations throughout this game … as in there wasn’t any rotation. I think Perry/Shep/Grady all needed to get minutes tonight and so far they havent

  • Acedeuce

    good run, but too little too late. at least it looks respectable and we showed what we can do. hello waiting for sunday.

  • They never quit. I love this team

  • I don’t think you can blame it on “not resting guys” yesterday or the rotations. This team was a bit gassed but they were also just missing a lot of shots.

  • Avery Queen

    anyone else find that foul by tisdale where he slapped stu on the top of the head pretty funny?

  • bentley

    frustrating 2nd half to say the least… they looked like they came out with the deer in the headlights look to start the 2nd half

  • And yes… it is great to see this team never quit. They aren’t going to win but an 11-0 run when you are down 20 still shows heart, and the power of the three pointer.


    Yeah that was hilarious Avery

  • bentley

    in the tournament if this team wants to make the sweet 16 there will have to be a better rotation


    Bruce Weber just seems like a weirdo.

  • bentley

    oh well…. here’s to sunday…. still will be a little nervous


    What would you like to see rotation wise Bentley?

  • Avery Queen

    I never have and never will understand why anyone would want to see Shepherd or Wright on the floor over Novak. Maybe LLP coulda got a couple more minutes in the 2nd half with Stu broke as he was but who cares. We sucked and we looked surprisingly tired, so here’s to 6 days of rest, a 10+ bid, and hopefully 8 B10 teams representing in the big dance.

  • Jon

    We lost, but it didn’t end up being a blowout. With the number of games being played right now, and the way we played yesterday, I doubt the committee was paying too much attention to this one.

    Either way, I just don’t see us left out. With the poor play of so many other bubble teams, we’ve done a pretty good job to finish the season, and I expect us to hear our name called as an 11 on sunday.

  • Mason

    Don’t look now but Temple up 3 on Xavier with just seconds left


    I dont think there will be any consideration of leaving us out. We have done everything we needed to do. It would be thievery if we were left out. GO BLUE

  • Jay

    Avery you have been a season long supporter on the Novak train..i always mention I wouldnt mind seeing Wright or Shep get a few minutes when we play bigger teams because of there size. Yes Novak has heart but he still has the body of an undersized Freshman guard playing forward. Ant has contributed here and there lately, and Shep we all know aint no hope for the future BUT he is more athletic. Im not saying bury Novak, but spell him sometimes, he isnt irreplaceable!

  • Mason

    Temple 55, X 53

  • bentley

    In a situation like a tournament where you are playing multiple games in short periods I like to give my guards as much rest as possible. I would have loved to see LLP get some more minutes… I know he didn’t play well in the first half (had a wild shot and some lapses on defense). However, I thought Lee, Douglass, and Nowak looked tired in the 2nd half. And it was apparent about 5 minutes in that they looked tired. I would love to see anyone spell those guys just a little more. I think that probably Manny should be the only guy getting more than 30 mpg in the tournament. I would love to see the minutes spread like so:

    Lee 24-28 minutes
    Grady 12-16 minutes

    Douglass 24-28 minutes
    LLP 12-16 minutes

    Manny 28-34 minutes
    Shep/Wright/anyone else 6-12 minutes (usually more towards 6)

    Nowak (because he plays undersized its probably key to limit his minutes, but we know the roster doesn’t allow for that) ideally he gets 20-24 minutes, but with our roster he plays 30-36 minutes, not a whole lot you can do, unless you want to try and steal minutes with gibson and sims on the floor at the same time

    Sims 28-32 minutes
    Gibson 8-12 minutes

    My biggest gripe is the rotation of the guards. When Lee looked tired and made that poor pass on the sideline that led to Davis’ breakaway dunk, I thought “great time to give Grady a few minutes”, Illinois was playing pressure D and we all know Grady can break pressure fairly well.

  • Paul

    Oh well hopefully were still dancing. Can’t win em all.


    Jay, I understand what your saying, I myself have thought it would be nice to have at least Wright in there more, but I think it boils down to a confidence thing with JB. I think he feels more confident offensively with Novak in there.

  • Avery Queen

    It’s not that I think Novak is amazing, he is definitely a mismatch half the time on defense, but it’s more that I think Shepherd and Wright are really bad at basketball.

  • Chad Jones

    So guys are we in or out, I still think we are safe.

  • JRose5

    i hate to beat a dead horse, but it would have been nice to see Grady get some minutes! –Remember the Min game, anyone?

  • bentley

    i agree avery, wright more so than shep. Every time wright gets the ball I get nervous. I wouldn’t mind seeing shep get 6-12 minutes a game. He can finish inside and is ultimately athletic, but his shot is flat out awful.

  • RPI holds at 42. SOS pops up to 9.

    We did pass Wisconsin in terms of RPI, they are now 43 with 11 SOS.

    Root for UCLA to win the Pac10 so they can sneak back into the RPI top25. We want Purdue and Illinois to do well as well but they are going to likely play each other.

  • Avery Queen

    bentley – i think that’s fair. i agree that shepherd at least sometimes makes a head turning play out of nowhere. but he seems to usually cancel it out immediately though.

    I hate to root against PSU but feel like maybe we should just to be safe?

  • bentley

    definitely rooting for purdue… not necessarily to root against psu, but I would love to see purdue make a run and finish inside the top 25 rpi… that late season win over purdue would look very impressive

  • South Florida Maize Rage

    I am nervous about getting in…I don’t see Blue on the last four in our first four out…good sign right?

  • AG2

    I didn’t see the game but I can’t say I’m surprised. Tisdale torched them in the 2nd meeting in Champaign, and Mike Davis is MUCH better than him. Am I imagining that Davis didn’t play the first time in Ann Arbor?

  • Chad Jones


  • Bear Killer

    AG2: Davis played at Ann Arbor, but wasn’t really prominent. He did have health problems in the middle of season. Now he’s 100% and it showed.

    Illinois fan here, by the way. Good on your Wolverines for their little run, because the Illini were definitely smelling blood in the water for a while there. I, too, think that you guys should dance, but you never know with the upset bug going around.

    Oh, might I point out an oversight in the game preview?

    “think we will see a lot of zone, the 2-3 seems to be the zone of choice when opponents have a lot of size.”

    Live and learn: Bruce Weber almost never zones. I’m not actually sure I ever remember him doing it. The man-to-man has good help and permits some switches, but no zone. Man, I hate to think how poor the Illini rebounding would be if we did zone. Ugh.

  • I was talking about Michigan running the 2-3 zone. I guess it wasn’t really that clear but I was referring to how Michigan will deal with Illinois’ size.

  • UMDC

    We’re in, there is no doubt about that.

    I’m hoping to win one, and getting to the sweet 16 would be a dream!

  • A.J.

    What time is the selection sunday show on?

  • JRose5

    Dylan, thanks for excellent coverage of the Big Ten season and BTT! I look forward to your coverage and comments of Um in the big Dance!


    cbs at 6pm I believe.


    Next year Cronin will stalemate most of the other bigs on our schedule. He will make it much more difficult for guys like tisdale, mullens, jujaun johnson…ect to score down low. He wont win every battle but we will be much better off.

  • South Florida Maize Rage


    Make sure you include that in amongst your links in your next blog if you haven’t already. Great story about Ant Wright. That is all legit because I am his facebook friend too and I saw the convo. I gained a lot of respect for Ant because of this.