Michigan Wolverines vs. Illinois Fighting Illini Pick & Prediction JANUARY 18th 2024

No. 14 Illinois will try to bounce back from a disappointing loss when it visits Michigan on Thursday night in a Big Ten Conference showdown in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Illinois (12-4, 3-2) dropped four spots in the rankings after losing 76-67 to Maryland on Sunday. It marked the second defeat in three games for the Fighting Illini, who remain without suspended guard Terrence Shannon Jr.

Marcus Domask scored 26 points to lead Illinois against the Terrapins. Luke Goode added 13 points as the only other Fighting Illini player to score in double digits.

Illinois coach Brad Underwood was more upset by his players’ defense than their offense.

“(It’s) my fault for not getting these guys in the right frame of mind defensively,” Underwood said. “I thought we were as mistake prone as we’ve ever been this season on that side.”

Underwood wants to see a better effort when Illinois travels to Michigan (7-10, 2-4). The Wolverines are looking for back-to-back wins after holding on for a 73-65 victory at home against Ohio State on Monday.

All five members of Michigan’s famed “Fab Five” from the 1990s were at the game. Jalen Rose said he and former teammates Chris Webber, Ray Jackson and Jimmy King decided to go as a way of supporting the fifth member of the group, Wolverines coach Juwon Howard, and his players.

Their presence seemed to inspire Michigan, which was led in scoring by Olivier Nkamhoua with 20 points. Terrance Williams II added 18 points and Dug McDaniel scored 15.

Howard praised Nkamhoua for his confidence and aggressiveness despite missing a couple of shots in the second half. He said other players might have adopted a pass-first mentality after that, but Nkamhoua remained active on offense and helped lift Michigan to the win.

“He was searching for the basketball and flashing to the middle,” Howard said. “It says a lot about his level as a competitor. Having a quick mind. Not afraid to take those big shots and not shy away from those big moments.”

McDaniel leads the Wolverines in scoring (17.6 points per game) and assists (5.0 per game). Nkamhoua is next in scoring at 17.1 points and averages a team-high 7.5 rebounds.

Domask is Illinois’ top scorer on the active roster with 14.9 points per game. Two others are scoring in double digits — including Quincy Guerrier (11.1) and Coleman Hawkins (10.5).

Underwood said his players seemed to be too comfortable with their previous top-10 ranking. He said they reached the top 10 in the first place because they played hard and battled for every loose ball, and they needed to rediscover that hunger starting their next game against Michigan.

“We’ve got to get back to who we are,” Underwood said.

Domask said he and his teammates knew what they needed to do.

“It’s just intensity,” Domask said. “We’ve got to guard the ball better and just play harder.”

This is the first of two meetings between the teams during the regular season. Illinois is scheduled to host Michigan on Feb. 13 in Champaign, Ill.

–Field Level Media

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