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Watch Illini males’s basketball welcomes Wolverines to Champaign for late-night Huge Ten battle – The Each day Illini – US Trending News Youtube HD Video Online
Coming off a gutsy 81-71 win over Nebraska in Lincoln on Tuesday, No. 25 Illinois welcomes a fellow Huge Ten powerhouse in Michigan to State Farm Middle on Friday night time.
After beginning the season ranked No. 4 within the nation, the Wolverines have struggled and at present sit at 7-6 general and are 1-2 in convention play, with the lone win being a 35-point blowout over Nebraska to open their Huge Ten schedule.
Michigan is coming off a one-week COVID-19 pause and final performed on Jan. 4, an eight-point highway loss to Rutgers. The Illini additionally handled COVID points earlier within the season, and head coach Brad Underwood is aware of the challenges of making ready for groups which have had prolonged day off.
“You’re unsure who’s had it, who hasn’t, how they’ve practiced,” Underwood mentioned. “We had a few days of apply, however I’m anticipating a full staff and we’re gonna get Michigan’s finest shot and I’m not gonna take a look at it every other means.”
In a convention with no scarcity of dominant large males, the Wolverines boast 7-foot-1 sophomore middle Hunter Dickinson, who was the Huge Ten’s Freshman of the Yr final season whereas additionally garnering All-Huge Ten and All-America honors in his first school season.
Dickinson has had a robust begin to his sophomore marketing campaign regardless of his staff’s gradual begin, averaging 16.1 factors, 8.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per sport, all of that are greater marks than final season, whereas he has shot an environment friendly 59.1% from the sector.
Although the Illini obtained the higher of the Wolverines in Ann Arbor final season, Underwood praised the play of each staff’s large males – Dickinson and Illinois junior Kofi Cockburn – and is aware of it’ll be a dogfight once more on Friday.
“Each guys final yr had been elite defensively,” Underwood mentioned. “I don’t suppose both of ‘em actually scored on one another. Hunter is an elite defender, as is Kofi. They made it very, very onerous.”
Cockburn has lived as much as the preseason hype up to now, as he’s averaging 22.0 factors per sport, the fourth-highest mark within the nation, 12.5 rebounds, the third-best mark nationally and 9 double-doubles, which is tied for the fourth-most nationwide.
With out their artful level guard in Andre Curbelo, the Illini have closely relied upon Cockburn and stay one of many prime offensive groups within the Huge Ten, rating third with 80.5 factors per sport, whereas the Wolverines sit ninth with 72.8 factors per sport.
Whereas 4 Illini – Cockburn, Alfonso Plummer, Trent Frazier and Jacob Grandison – common at the very least 10 factors per sport, simply two Wolverines – Dickinson and grad scholar guard Eli Brooks – common double-digit factors.
With the highest recruiting class within the nation in 2021, Michigan nonetheless poses a menace regardless of sitting beneath .500 in convention play, Underwood says. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. in Champaign.
“They’re a staff that likes to play quick,” Underwood mentioned. “They get good alternatives, they get threes in transition and we’ve gotta be dialed in to all of that, however it’s Illinois-Michigan, it’s two good basketball groups and must be enjoyable.”
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