2020-21 Season

Illinois’ defense leaves Michigan without answers in blowout loss

The whoops and hollers spilled out of the visiting locker room, down a hallway and out the tunnel. They crossed towards half court and rose up into the 200 level, permeating the furthest reaches of the Crisler Center.

This was the scene Tuesday night in Ann Arbor, where Michigan lost for the first time in 369 days. That the Wolverines lost to No. 4 Illinois, though, wasn’t so much the surprising part. The stunner was that it came in a 76-53 demolition, a blowout so forceful that it served to obscure the pregame histrionics.

Before the game, Illinois coach Brad Underwood took a shot at Michigan’s three COVID-19-related cancelations, telling reporters, “We’re not gonna be the teams that pick and choose what we play for whatever. We’re going to show up. I think it’s about character and this team has a ton of it.”

Afterward, Underwood’s tone had flipped. “Michigan is obviously one of the best teams in the country,” he said. “That’s not even close.”

Underwood, in the minutes after being mobbed by his team in postgame celebrations, didn’t need trash talk anymore. His team’s performance had spoken for itself. Because what Illinois did defensively Tuesday night was astonishing.

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