The Illinois Fighting Illini are still considered a bubble team going into the last few weeks of the season, but pulled off arguably their most important win of the season, as they defeated fellow bubble team the Michigan State Spartans away from home. Now, however, Illinois must avoid losing to other teams in the Big 10 fighting to get back into the 2015 NCAA Tournament picture.
One of the teams in the Big 10 with a record that doesn’t look positive for the NCAA tournament, but have an RPI in the top 80, are the Michigan Wolverines. They travel to State Farm Center to face off with the Fighting Illini on Thursday, Feb. 12 at 9 PM ET on ESPN.
The Wolverines sit at 13 – 11 after a start to the season that saw them lose to several teams outside of the top 150 RPI, but bounced back before their recent three-game losing streak. The good news for Michigan is that losing in Big 10 play isn’t as damaging as it could be, and as crazy as it sounds, this team just needs to get to 20 wins and it could be in the Big Dance even without Caris LeVert.
If this game was away from home for Illinois, I would call the upset, but it’s very unlikely that Michigan will be able to pull off a road upset over a team as talented as the Fighting Illini. I expect Illinois to win this one in a tight game between two teams that will challenge for the Big 10 title next season.