Michigan Becomes Top Team in the Country With Win Over Illinois

By Alex Dale
Bradley Leeb- USA TODAY Sports

After Michigan’s convincing road win over Illinois, the Wolverines are now going to be the No. 1 team in the country.  After Duke lost early this week, the door opened for No. 2 Michigan to rise in to the top spot in the country.  Michigan took advantage of this opportunity and beat Purdue on Thursday, before crushing the Illini Sunday.  Monday morning, Michigan will be No. 1 in the land for the first time in over two decades.

Trey Burke turned in yet another dominant performance, scoring 19 points, and adding five assists, four rebounds and three steals.  He controlled the game throughout, and made big plays when Michigan needed him to.  Burke has made a similar ascent to Michigan as a team this year, from borderline preseason All-American to a favorite for player of the year.  He has said that he speaks with Chris Paul. With the way Burke is playing, he should be calling and texting Paul everyday.

Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas all scored in double digits as well, and the three supporting scorers shot an extremely efficient 17-27 combined, from the field.  Stauskas and Hardaway both hit two threes a piece, while Robinson continues to make the scrappy plays in the paint.

A big day for Michigan basketball did not start out so well, as starting big man Jordan Morgan had a gruesome ankle twist just a minute in to the game.  He never returned, creating a void in the paint for Michigan.  However, Mitch McGary, Jon Horford and Max Bielfeldt filled the void wonderfully.  McGary had some rough moments, but also made some nice put-backs on the offensive boards.  Horford looked really good. After missing so much time to injury in his career, it was nice to see him making plays on a big stage. Bielfeldt has not seen the floor very much, averaging just 2.5 mpg in Big Ten games, but made some nice plays in the paint for Michigan Sunday.  The trio of big men combined for 17 points and 14 rebounds, giving Michigan a clear advantage down-low over Illinois.

This was a huge win for the Michigan basketball program.  They are a long way from the 2008-09 season when the Wolverines won just 10 games in John Beilein’s first season.  Four years later, Michigan is going to be the top team in the country, and have arguably the best player in the country in Burke.  Beilein swore by his offensive system, and was moderately successful with less talented teams in the last few years.  Now, with as talented a team as there is in the country, Michigan has the best offense in the country.

However, their goals have not been achieved quite yet.

When Burke announced he was returning for his sophomore year he referred to unfinished business.  He was not talking about being ranked No. 1 in the country in late January, although I am sure he is ecstatic about the achievement.  Burke said he was coming back because he believed Michigan could win a title.  Right now, who can argue with him?

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