#5 Illinois vs #3 Michigan Road to March Madness

#5 Illinois vs #3 Michigan Road to March Madness | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Huge game from the Big Ten on Tuesday as No. 3 Michigan would clinch the Big Ten regular-season title with a win over No. 5 Illinois – those rankings could change a bit later Monday. The Wolverines will be favored on the NCAAB odds. They are +400 to win the national title and Illinois +2000.

How to Bet Illinois at Michigan NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

Last Meeting

It’s the only scheduled meeting between the schools. Last year, U-M won both. The one in Ann Arbor was 64-62 when Michigan was unranked and Illinois was No. 21. Illinois star Ayo Dosunmu hit a contested jumper from the free throw line with 0.5 seconds remaining for the win. Michigan had one last possession with under a second left, but the Wolverines didn’t get a shot off. The Wolverines let the game slip away at the foul line, where they went 0 for 5 in the final four minutes. Illinois tied it at 62 on a pair of free throws by Trent Frazier with 52.3 seconds left. Then Jon Teske missed inside for Michigan, and the Illini had the ball back. It was the Illini’s first win in Ann Arbor since 2010.

Why Bet on Illinois? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Illinois (18-6) won its second in a row Saturday, 74-69 at No. 23 Wisconsin to complete the season sweep. After the Badgers trailed by 13 points with less than three minutes left, D’Mitrik Trice nearly brought them back by scoring 19 points in the final 2 minutes, 12 seconds. Trice’s 3-pointer cut Illinois’ lead to 70-69 with 6.7 seconds left.

After Illinois’ Trent Frazier sank two free throws with 5.7 seconds remaining, Illinois fouled Trevor Anderson with 1.9 seconds left before Wisconsin could attempt a tying free throw. An exchange of words near the Wisconsin bench followed that foul and resulted in offsetting technicals. Anderson missed the next two free throws, then Jacob Grandison hit a pair of free throws to account for the final scoring.

Illinois was playing without All-American candidate Ayo Dosunmu, who missed a second straight game after breaking his nose Tuesday in an 81-72 loss at Michigan State. He’s questionable for this one.

Illinois was led by Kofi Cockburn (19 points, seven rebounds), Andre Curbelo (17 points, seven rebounds) and Da’Monte Williams 12 points. Frazier added six rebounds for the Illini.

In two appearances against the Badgers this season, Cockburn combined for 42 points, 21 rebounds, and was 17-for-26 from the field. With Dosunmu out, the freshman Curbelo has stepped up for the Illini. He has combined for 27 points, 19 rebounds, nine assists, and a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity line in the past two games.

Illinois shot 52.1% (25-for-48) from the field, the Illini’s highest percentage at Wisconsin since shooting 53.3% (24-for-45) on Feb. 9, 2010. Illinois shot 55.6% (5-for-9) from three-point range, the Illini’s highest three-point percentage at Wisconsin since shooting 60.0% (6-for-10) on Jan. 10, 2008. Illinois is one of four teams to win back-to-back years at Kohl Center in the last 20 years. Only Illinois and Michigan State have achieved the feat twice.

Why Bet on Michigan? | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert Analysis

Michigan (18-1) might move up to No. 2 in the new AP Top 25 on Monday with former unbeaten Baylor, the current No. 2, losing over the weekend. The Wolverines avoided a potential trap Saturday in winning 73-57 at Indiana.  IU was without top guard Armaan Franklin, sidelined with a right foot injury suffered a few days earlier at Rutgers. He was wearing a boot.

“Disappointed in the outcome,” Hoosiers coach Archie Miller said, “but Michigan is a terrific team. They just keep coming. They have amazing size. They have a lot of answers on both ends of the floor.”

Despite a short turnaround from Thursday night’s win over No. 12 Iowa, Michigan had little trouble dispatching the Hoosiers. Michigan led for nearly the entire game — and by double digits for much of the second half. Michigan’s offense was especially effective in the second half, connecting on 50 percent of its attempts after only making 40.7 percent in the game’s first 20 minutes.

It was U-M’s fourth straight road win as the Wolverines improved to 6-1 away from Ann Arbor in Big Ten play. Franz Wagner led U-M, posting his second straight game of a season-high 21 points. He added six rebounds and three steals. Isaiah Livers made four three-pointers, scored 16 points and tied his career high with 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.

Mike Smith added 14 points, going 4-for-5 from the field with a pair triples. He added three assists and three rebounds. Smith leads U-M in three-point shooting (46.5 percent) after he started 1-for-9 to begin the season. Freshman center Hunter Dickinson closed with 13 points, seven rebounds, a block and two assists. Dickinson will win Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors.

Livers was named one of five finalists for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Julius Erving Award, presented annually to the nation’s top small forward.

Michigan needs one win in its final three games to clinch its first regular-season conference title since 2013-14. The Wolverines also squeezed past Baylor to take over the No. 2 spot on KenPom following Saturday’s victory.

Expert College Basketball Prediction

Michigan 76, Illinois 71


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