In an absolute laugher no one saw coming, the No. 4 Illinois Fighting Illini dominated the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines in a 76-53 drubbing at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor on Tuesday night. What was anticipated to be one of the best Big Ten games of the year turned into blowout, as Illinois can rightfully lay claim to being the hottest team in college basketball.
The Illini (19-6, 15-4 Big Ten) closed as a 6.5-point underdog at DraftKings Sportsbook but at no time during the game did they look like the lesser team, much less one playing on the road against what was regarded as the best non-Gonzaga squad in America.
Trent Frazier led all scorers with 22 points on 7-18 shooting, and Andre Curbelo shined in the absence of star guard Ayo Dosumnu, who missed his third-straight game with a facial injury. Curbelo added 17 points on 8-14 shooting and six rebounds.
Michigan (18-2, 13-2 Big Ten) was outrebounded 42-26, shot just 17-49 from the field, and scored just .815 points per possession, led by 11 from guard Eli Brooks.
For Illinois, they now get a reeling No. 7 Ohio State to close the season on Saturday. Michigan has two games left against rival Michigan State this week, and they’ll need to win at least one of them to be assured of the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
But that still might not translate to a No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament without winning some games in Indianapolis next week for the conference gathering.