College Basketball Preview: Michigan - Illinois

Illinois (16-8, 6-5 B1G)

  • Illinois looks for their fourth consecutive win tonight when they take on the Michigan Wolverines. Senior guard Rayvonte Rice returns from suspension. However Aaron Cosby will remain suspended. This will be Rice's first game since January 3, 2015. 

Michigan (13-11, 6-6 B1G)

  • Michigan looks to get back to their winning ways after dropping three out of the last four games. The Maize and Blue will look to take the season sweep against the Illini tonight, however with the return of Rayvonte Rice for Illinois it most certainly wont be an easy task.

Last time these two teams met:

December 30, 2014- Michigan 73 Illinois 65 OT (Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan)

  • The Illini looked to be on their way to a fourth-straight Big Ten road win, but hot 3-point shooting by Michigan allowed the hosts to come back and protect its homecourt with an overtime victory. Illinois led for the majority of the game, building an advantage that reached as many as 13 points – 48-35 – with 11 minutes remaining. The Wolverines, who had made just two of their first 15 attempts from 3-point range, then caught fire, draining five straight treys and six of nine to pull back to even. Illinois had its chances at the end, taking a 1-point lead on a pair of free throws by Malcolm Hill with 48 seconds remaining. Ricky Doyle made one of two at the line with 30 seconds to go to tie it and set up the final play of regulation. Rayvonte Rice drew two defenders after a screen, missing an 18-footer at the buzzer to set up overtime. Hill made a jumper on the Illini’s first possession in OT, but Michigan then rattled off 13 unanswered points to pull away. The Wolverines ended up making 10 three-pointers on the afternoon. That proved to be too much to overcome, as Illinois lost for the first time this season when outshooting its opponent from the field. Malcolm Hill led the Illini with 19 points, shooting 7-of-12 and scoring 15 of his points after intermission. He was the lone Illini in double figures, as Rayvonte Rice and Nnanna Egwu added eight points each. 

Players to watch:

Illinois-

  • Senior guard Rayvonte Rice- Rice is effective in all areas. Prior to appearing in less than 75 percent of Illinois’ games, he was the only Big Ten player ranked in the top 10 in scoring (fourth, 17.2 ppg), rebounding (sixth, 6.9 rpg) and steals (fifth, 1.8 spg). He has improved his shooting accuracy at every level this season. He is currently shooting 51.5 percent from the field, ranked second in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting at 48.3 percent, and was 13th in the league in free throw shooting at 80.3 percent. He entered his senior year as a 42.4 percent career shooter, including 28 percent from behind the arc and 71.2 percent at the line. Rice has scored in double figures in 14 of 15 games this year, with six 20-point outings. He has registered double figures in 45 of 50 games during his two-year Illini career with 16, 20-point games
  • Sophomore guard Malcolm Hill- Hill has led the Illini in scoring in four of the last five games, averaging 19.4 points (97). He also has been the team’s top scorer in six of the last nine games, seven of 11 in Big Ten play, and 10 times on the season. Hill has scored in double figures in 12 of the last 13 games, averaging 16.3 points (212). He entered his sophomore year with a career high of 11 points. He has surpassed or equaled that total in 19 of 24 games this season.

Michigan-

  • Sophomore forward Zak Irvin-Irvin leads the Wolverines with 13.6 points per game, and also averages 4.0 rebounds. Irvin leads U-M with 57 long-range buckets -- 2.4 per game -- which ranks fourth in the Big Ten. He is proving he is not just a long-range shooter as he has nearly split his scoring straight down the middle. He is shooting 116-for-292 from the fi eld (39.7 percent) and shooting is 57-for-161 from long range (35.4 percent), putting him at 59-for-131 on two-point field goal attempts (45.0 percent).

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