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No. 25 Illinois (12-3, 5-0 Big Ten)


P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Trent Frazier Sr. 6-2 12.8 Wellington, Fla.

G Alfonso Plummer Gr. 6-1 15.9 Fajardo, Puerto Rico

G Da’Monte Williams Sr. 6-3 4.3 Peoria

F Jacob Grandison Gr. 6-6 12.1 Oakland, Calif.

C Kofi Cockburn Jr. 7-0 22.0 Kingston, Jamaica

FYI: Plummer is just 3 of 16 (18.8 percent) from three-point range in the last three games. It’s a similar stretch to his first three games this season where he made just 3 of 13 (23.1 percent) of his three-point attempts. In between, of course, was a nine-game stretch where the Utah transfer made 39 of 81 (48.1 percent) of his threes.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

F Coleman Hawkins So. 6-10 7.7 Sacramento, Calif.

G Luke Goode Fr. 6-7 2.5 Fort Wayne, Ind.

F Omar Payne Jr. 6-10 1.9 Kissimmee, Fla.

Michigan (7-6, 1-2 Big Ten)


P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Eli Brooks Gr. 6-1 12.9 Spring Grove, Pa.

G DeVante’ Jones Gr. 6-1 7.5 New Orleans

G/F Caleb Houstan Fr. 6-8 9.5 Mississauga, Ont.

F Moussa Diabate Fr. 6-11 8.7 Paris

C Hunter Dickinson So. 7-1 16.1 Alexandria, Va.

FYI: Brooks is one of two John Beilein recruits, along with Brandon Johns Jr., still on the Wolverines’ roster, although Johns played just a single season for the former Michigan coach. Brooks has started 82 of his 138 career games and all 70 since Juwan Howard took over as coach. The only season he didn’t start a single game was 2018-19 when he backed up Zavier Simpson. Howard played Brooks and Simpson together in 2019-20 and Brooks and Mike Smith together last year.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Kobe Bufkin Fr. 6-4 4.5 Grand Rapids, Mich.

F Terrance Williams II So. 6-7 5.7 Clinton, Md.

F Brandon Johns Jr. Sr. 6-8 5.2 East Lansing, Mich.


➜ Site: State Farm Center (15,544); Champaign.

➜ Radio: Brian Barnhart (play-by-play) and former Illini Deon Thomas (analysis) will have the call on the Illini Sports Network on WDWS 1400-AM, WDWS 93.9-FM, WHMS 97.5-FM, WDAN-1490-AM, WDNL 102.1-FM and WPXN 104.9-FM.

➜ TV: Joe Davis (play-by-play) and Jimmy Jackson (analysis) have the call on Fox Sports 1.

➜ Series: Michigan leads 90-85.

➜ Last meeting: Illinois won 76-53 on March 2, 2021, in Ann Arbor, Mich.

➜ FYI: Brad Underwood improved to 3-0 against Juwan Howard with last year’s road win courtesy of a 22-point game by Trent Frazier. Illinois also won in Ann Arbor in the 2019-20 season with Ayo Dosunmu dropping 27 points and a buzzer-beating game-winner over Zavier Simpson. Underwood’s first victory against Howard also came in the 2019-20 with a 71-62 home winat State Farm Center behind 19 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks from Kofi Cockburn.

Beat writer Scott Richey’s storylines

Push play: Wolverines off pause

Brad Underwood said Thursday afternoon he was expecting the entire Michigan roster to be available for Friday night’s game. The Illinois coach can’t really operate any other way. The Wolverines just spent the previous nine days on a COVID-19 pause and lost a pair of games — at least temporarily — against Michigan State and Purdue. Michigan coach Juwan Howard addressed the state of his team Thursday morning. “Right now, at this moment, we have seven players and one coach available, but you never know how it can change (Friday),” Howard said, with the context and tone being the Wolverines at least meet the Big Ten minimum to play. “Put your head down, lay on the pillow and ... say a nice, beautiful prayer for everyone — which I love doing, and I feel it’s the right thing out of my heart to do — and then wake up in the morning, you get the text from the trainer or call from a trainer as far as what we have available and who’s ready to go.”

Rivalry renewed for Illini, Wolverines

Trent Frazier held up the “B1G Champions” sign after Illinois closed out the 2020-21 regular season with a win at Ohio State. It was a shot across the bow for Michigan, which, via winning percentage, claimed the regular-season Big Ten title. Frazier wasn’t biting on any questions about the Illini-Wolverines rivalry ahead of Friday’s game, though. “It’s just two teams that don’t like each other, I guess,” the veteran guard said Thursday. Sophomore forward Coleman Hawkins was a bit more willing to discuss the potential for some hard feelings. “Last year, it didn’t hit me until we didn’t get to play them right away and they had to reschedule some games,” Hawkins said. “Now, there’s definitely some hatred because I feel like we should have another Big Ten banner hanging in the rafters, and it’s not there. The way they talk on social media and the way our fans talk about them, I definitely feel a strong hatred and rivalry between (the teams).”

Possibly encouraging signs for Curbelo

Will Andre Curbelo play Friday night against Michigan? No, probably not. Is the sophomore guard back on track for a return at some point after missing the previous 10 games with an undisclosed ailment? Seems like it. “He will be back in practice in a limited role,” Underwood said. “He won’t be full-go, but he’ll be back in some capacity. We’re not going to put him out there in the kind of shape he’s in. ... Right now, everything is based on conditioning. What he does one day, it’s the reaction to that. That determines what he’s been able to do and push through. We’re gaining ground on that, which is a positive.”

The News-Gazette’s Pick

No. 25 Illinois 82, Michigan 74

No telling what to expect from Michigan on Friday. Before their COVID-19 pause, the Wolverines were wildly inconsistent and arguably the most disappointing team in the country compared to preseason projections. It will fall on Illinois, then, to continue giving Kofi Cockburn plenty of post touches and making enough threes to keep the defense honest. (N-G prediction record — 12-3).

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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