John Beilein talks about the challenge of facing a very big Illinois team on the road, the NCAA Tournament picture and more. Notes and quotes, as usual, are after the jump.
- Illinois “has always been a tough place for a lot of teams to play at … hopefully we’ll be able to battle them right to the end and if you’re in it at the end then you can win it.”
- “I think our kids got a little taste of success now and they know it didn’t come easy.”
- On Illinois’ recent struggles: “This league is all about who you’re playing and where you’re playing them.” Said that’s what happens when you play in a league with 7-8 really good teams.
- The Illinois game is very important, but “they’re all important games.” But said it was a great chance for the program to make another jump and increase its chances for postseason play.
- Excluding games at Northwestern and at Indiana, Beilein said he feels like his team has played pretty well on the road this year.
- Said the coaches “had the big brooms out” during practice to force the big men to shoot over. Trying to prepare for the height of the Illini.
- Will be either Evan Smotrycz or Stu Douglass starting against Illinois, will most likely decide today.
- Said Michigan is playing its best basketball of the year, but “I think we still show our youth at times on defense and in our decision-making.”
- On talking with his team about the NCAA Tournament: “I talked to them yesterday one time and I said this is the last time we’re going to talk about it.” Told them a of teams would love to have the opportunity to play four top-50 teams to close out the season.