Games center | No. 15 Illinois to Michigan; 1:00 p.m., CBS | sports

Last time I was at Crisler Center, I saw Michigan athletics staff bring a ladder onto the field before the game. It was a bit presumptuous of them. The Wolverines were banking on a win over Illinois and a post-game ceremony where they cut the nets to celebrate their Big Ten regular-season title. Michigan, of course, won the Big Ten last year. If that’s not a bit controversial (at least if you’re an Illinois fan). What the Wolverines didn’t do last year in Ann Arbor was beat the Illini. Turns out they didn’t need the ladder after all.

Game Day Central | No. 15 Illinois to Michigan; 1 p.m., CBS | Sports Playing without Ayo Dosunmu, who was out with a concussion and a fractured face, Illinois beat Michigan on their home turf. Trent Frazier scored a game-high 22 points – passing Michigan leader Eli Brooks – and Andre Curbelo had 17 points in what turned into a 76-53 win. Explosive city.

— Illinois Basketball (@IlliniMBB) February 27, 2022 Illinois isn’t quite there on the health front. RJ Melendez is still out after emergency appendicitis surgery earlier this week, and Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk was still under concussion protocol Saturday morning. That still leaves five healthy starters plus Andre Curbelo, Coleman Hawkins and Co. on the bench.

But that was last year. The two teams are significantly different heading into today’s rematch against another Illinois win last month in Champaign. Juwan Howard is serving the second of his five-game suspension, so assistant head coach Phil Martelli took charge. Wolverines are back at full strength after Moussa Diabate and Terrance Williams II served their own one-game suspensions, and Hunter Dickinson and Brandon Johns Jr. are both healthy after missing the game in Champaign after contracted COVID-19. 🗣 𝐆𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐃𝐚𝐲!🏀 at Michigan🕐 1:00 PM CT📺 CBS#Illini | #EveryDayGuys

Still, it’s somewhat of a “must win” game for Illinois if winning a Big Ten regular-season title is ever a goal. Brad Underwood seems focused on “March, March, March, March.” (It’s the NCAA tournament if you’re wondering), and Trent Frazier said after Thursday’s home loss to Ohio State that a national championship was always the goal.

A win in Ann Arbor would help anyway.

A win in Ann Arbor would help anyway.

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