MSU thoughts, standings, & Michigan predictions
So, about that “see their team is weak” stuff...
Man, this one had everything: lots of points off turnovers early, decent shooting after that, more freshmen contributions, angry Groce, angry Izzo, Dakich in his prime. Heck, even TV Teddy managed to sneak in to the telecast…and he wasn’t even reffing! In all seriousness, though, today we saw a no fear, nothing to lose Illini team who stayed true to my key leading into this one of putting the foot down on the gas pedal and not letting up. Easily the best win of the year when it comes to the caliber of the opponent. I’m still sticking by my viewpoint that since the big dance is out of the question, the Illini are playing for next year. But I won’t deny that late season upsets will do wonders for confidence.
Not going to have access to postgame Groce til Monday, so you’ll have to wait for that. In the meantime, down the stretch the pickers come!
Now, the hand-staters come here.
Michigan is having one of those seasons where most things are going right, but they’re not bragging about it. And when things go wrong, they don’t use the McGary injury as an excuse. Quite simply, they’re playing disciplined basketball, not fouling a lot, are capable of playing from behind, and have two reliable point guards in Walton and Albrecht that can handle the rock (Spike is also quite the ladies’ man as evidenced by the photo below.). The squad’s worst Big Ten loss is Indiana, and that came at a time where the Hoosiers were actually playing well. Sum it all up, and it means an outright Big Ten title for John Beilein if his guys can take care of business the rest of the way.
So what can the Illini try to exploit on Tuesday? Well, the Wolverines average around 33 boards per game, but I think that number is a bit deceiving, as no one player is averaging more than 4.5 rebounds per game. And of course, we’re all aware of the play of B1G Player of the Year candidate Nik Stauskas. But what some media reports out Ann Arbor have indicated is that when his team as a whole is struggling in a game, Nik tries to take matters into his own hands. And sometimes he crashes and burns (figuratevly of course).
My prediction: Illinois 65, Michigan 64
Don’t forget – our competition ends at the end of the regular season. So if your name is in red on the above chart, you really don’t want to miss these two final picks.
Other items from the notebook…
- We start by going back to UM for a second. Their game notes contain something I’ve never seen before: notes on each player designed specifically for broadcasters. Among the fun facts: Nik Stauskas’ nickname is “Tube” for all the YouTube videos he posts. Jon Horford loves to play hacky sack. And Andrew Dakich loves to spend time on the links as much as he loves to spend time on the court. Neat, right?
- And we end with (sorry) some more WDWS programming plugs. If you happen to be reading this on Saturday evening, tune in as the St. Thomas More girls squad plays for a state title. And have your radio handy Friday night for the Champaign Central regional final in boys basketball action. That one could be a Central-Centennial matchup, and if so, it’s a must-listen. DWS is also following the St. Joseph-Ogden boys basketball squad and will feature them if they advance to the supersectional game.
Coming up Tuesday: Michigan thoughts, standings, & Iowa predictions
[Abrams audio via ESPN, Beilein audio via mgobluecom, Spike tweet via @SpikeAlbrecht on Twitter]