Game 27: Illinois at Michigan Preview

Dylan Burkhardt


Who: Michigan (13-13, 7-7) vs. Illinois (17-10, 9-5)
Where: Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI
When: 7:00 PM, Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
Radio: MGoBlue, WWJ 950 AM/WTKA 1050 AM
: Michigan by 3
Stats: Live TFS
Pomeroy Profile

It’s back to the grind for Michigan. Dealing with bad losses should be commonplace at this point. Michigan has done a surprisingly good job of putting past disappointments behind them and taking things one game at a time.  After a loss to Indiana they rebounded and beat Ohio State. After the collapse versus Northwestern, they responded with two wins in a row including Connecticut.

Now, one the heels of a loss to the last place Nittany Lions, they welcome Illinois to Crisler Arena. Illinois is certainly talented but they haven’t necessarily been consistent themselves. The Illini have a smattering of quality wins including including Vanderbilt, Clemson, Michigan St., and Wisconsin. But they also have some head scratching losses like Utah and Bradley.

Josh Birnbaum The Daily Illini Illinois' Demetri McCamey raises his arms to get fans to cheer during the last home game of the season against Minnesota at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill., on Saturday, March 8, 2008.  Illinois defeated Minnesota, 67-58.  It was also the final home game for seniors Chris Hicks, Shaun Pruitt, and Brian Randle.Illinois has a number of good players but the man to watch is junior point guard Demetri McCamey. McCamey is one of the most overlooked players in the Big Ten’s vaunted junior class but not for lack of production. McCamey is averaging 15.2 points per game and shooting 38% from behind the arc. In his last seven games, McCamey is averaging 9.6 assists per contest. McCamey’s astronomical assist numbers are marred slightly by his tendency to turn the ball over, he’s averaging 3.2 turnovers per game in Big Ten play.

Despite McCamey’s set-up game, Michigan really needs to worry about Illinois’ size down low. The duo of Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale has been a thorn in Michigan’s side for sometime. In Champaign, Tisdale scored 24 points on 10-12 shooting but in Indianapolis it was Davis who scored 22 points on 11 of 19 shooting. Davis and Tisdale are both proficient midrange jump shooters who have significant height advantages of the men guarding them (Novak, Sims). Davis has struggled for portions of this year but an anonymous phone call seems to have him back on the right track.

The difference between this Illini team and last year’s squad is the addition of two freshmen wings: Brandon Paul and DJ Richardson. Richardson appears to be the more complete player of the pair at this point. He’s averaging 10.8 points per game and shooting 41.5% from three point range.


Looking at the latest scatter plots from the Big Ten Geeks, the Illini are in an almost identical position to Michigan.  Offensively, Illinois focuses on 2 point jump shots (71.8% of FGA are 2PA) and they hit them at a respectable 50.6% clip. Because the Illini are some sort of weird POT-hybrid 2 point jump shooting team, that takes twos instead of threes, they don’t shoot a lot of free throws (FTA/FGA=29.2%) or get a lot of offensive rebounds (32.5 OR%). But they do take care of the ball (17.9 TO%) and get almost no shots blocked (4.6% of their attempts are blocked, the best in the country).

Defensively, the Illini are solid across the board. They are a good defensive rebounding team (69.8 DR%) and keep opponents off the line (31.5% FTR). Most of all they are good at defending the three point shot, holding opponents to only 31.3% from downtown (but 31.3% is still above Michigan’s average, gotta think positive right?). The one thing they don’t do on the defensive side of the ball is create turnovers, their opponents turn the ball over on less than 19% of their possessions.

Pomeroy’s predictions have Michigan by one and Vegas likes Michigan by three (but that is moving toward Illinois). Watching disappointing performances like Saturday’s Penn State game, it’s tough to make yourself believe that this team will ever win another game, but they’ve still got to play them. Consistency has been the biggest problem for Michigan so it’s really up for grabs which Michigan team we’ll see on any given night.

Michigan is playing for pride and this will be the seniors last game in front of the whole Maize Rage. Illinois is playing for an NCAA tournament berth and a loss would be detrimental to their bubble chances. If you were wondering what Illini fans think, they have this one penciled in as a win. Let’s hear your thoughts, predictions, and anything else in the comments.

Other links & notes.

  • mtung

    Before the game last night I went down to the floor and watched our “shooters” shoot. Novak made 8 straight 3s while Corey Pearson was “feeding” him from the post. Novak seemed to be putting forth a concentrated effort to put more arc on his shoots. For some reason, most of Douglas’ pre-game shots were flatter than usual, but he has great rotation on the ball. D-Mo struggles putting rotation on his shots — it often looks like a knuckle-ball — no finger roll, no goose neck. When Pearson fed him passes in the corner, he put a little more rotation on his shots, generating more touch,arc, and makes. Once in the game, D-Mo went back to his usual “shot-put” type efforts, with little or no rotation. Most of Douglas’ shots were short last night, clanking off the front of the rim. Novak shot better in the game than he has in awhile, even his misses had more arc on them. So much of this is confidence and trusting yourself. It has been such a long, frustrating and confidence-sapping year that we can’t make jumpers, free throws or even lay ups at this point. It would seem likely, at this point, that UofM will struggle to win another game this year. The struggles have not been for lack of effort — it has been for lack of size, talent and depth. As many fans as possible should show up for the Minnesota game and let Peedi, Gibby, and the rest know that although we are as disapointed in the results as they are, we applaud the effort.

  • Kevin in GR

    If you read into this, looks like maybe Mamny plans to stick around next year? Take it FWIW…..

    Harris, who led Michigan with 15 points and 11 rebounds, had no explanation for his team’s atrocious shooting performance.

    “I got to the rim and missed it,” he said. “I never thought I’d keep missing. For some guys it’s like a slump. Others are just missing. We’ll get better. I know we only have three games left. Even if we don’t get into a tournament it’ll give us momentum going into next season.

    From The Detroit News:–Michigan-44–Postseason-hopes-fading-for-U-M#ixzz0gTFuWtYj

  • Manny will make his decision after the season. I expect him back because frankly where else is he going to go?

    Even still, those are the kind of quotes you need to give after a loss… This is the same thing that came up after a game earlier this year.

  • michigan fan

    yes, I also noticed Morris’s shot has little rotation on it. I hope that he works on it the off season.

  • jim-e-p

    Turnovers were very low, we forced more than our share, and the defense was generally excellent. We were able to get open look after open look all game long. Illinois got a few too many loose balls and offensive rebounds (what else is new), but they are also much bigger than us. The problem, again, was not coaching but horrid, incredibly bad shooting. Let’s contrast tonight’s game with a 44 point Amaker game. Amaker would have the wrong starting lineup. Players would move in and out of the lineup seemingly at random, just so it would appear that Amaker was doing something. There would be turnover after turnover, twenty seconds of “motion offense” followed by a pass out of bounds with no shot attempted. This would all be done with players better, larger, and more athletic than this year’s team. With some size and better shooting next year (NO WAY it is possible to get worse than the crap I have forced myself to watch lately) things will begin to improve. If Ziegler signs we could see four new starters next year.