Michigan isn’t going to wake up as a new team overnight in the final week of the season. This team is what it is, an effective offensive team with a defense that doesn’t have the answers.
Whether the Wolverines punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament or not is going to come down to the results of that highly combustible combination over a small sample of less than a half dozen games.
On Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines didn’t play particularly close to their best and found themselves trailing throughout. Alfonso Plummer made a barrage of first-half threes that the Wolverines could never completely erase from the margin. They certainly tried, cutting the lead to just 2 points with two minutes to play, but Illinois had the answers in crunch time.
Kofi Cockburn scored in the paint — something he did all afternoon, finishing with 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting — Caleb Houstan missed on a back cut layup, and then Trent Frazier buried a stepback three that was only made possible by a Coleman Hawkins offensive rebound. Michigan played hard and made enough shots to keep things interesting, but in the end, the Wolverines couldn’t get the stops required to knock off the Illini.