2023-24 Season

Game 25: Michigan at Illinois Recap

What else is left to say?

We’ve seen this movie over and over again, and it is getting worse rather than better. The Wolverines went on the road without Dug McDaniel and got demolished for the fifth time.

At times, it felt like Illinois could name its final score. Michigan trailed by 18 points at the break and by 37 in the second half before Brad Underwood mercifully sat Terrence Shannon Jr., Coleman Hawkins, and Ty Rodgers for the final 9:20 of play.

Watching a Big Ten team bench multiple starters for the final quarter of a game is a new low for a season that keeps digging deeper.

The Wolverines are not just the worst team in the Big Ten; they are a significantly worse version of themselves when they play on the road without their best player.

Michigan is now 0-5 against the spread (and overall) and has failed to cover the spread by an average of 11 points per game in those five games without McDaniel. They are rapidly reaching levels of ineptitude that not even Las Vegas or KenPom’s computers can keep up with.

Michigan scraped its way to .96 points per possession and shot better on twos than it has in most of these games without Dug McDaniel. There was a lot of post-up action for Tarris Reed Jr. and Olivier Nkamhoua, who sludged their way to 26 points on 23 shots.

Illinois is one of the best in the country at preventing 3-point attempts, and the reality is that Michigan doesn’t have anyone to create or take 3-pointers with this road roster. The Wolverines finished 1-of-10 from deep, with the one make coming in garbage time for Will Tschetter.

The inability of anyone on the roster to beat their man and draw multiple defenders to create perimeter looks means that opponents don’t even have to play like Illinois to take away 3-point shots from this team on the road.

This was another historically bad defensive game that would have been significantly worse if Illinois hadn’t sat its best players for the last quarter of the game. Overall, it was the second-worst defensive performance of the year at 1.37 points allowed per possession.

Everyone knows about the 114 points that Michigan State ran up on the Wolverines in 2000, the most points allowed by U-M in the KenPom era, but 97 to Illinois and 99 to Purdue are now the 2nd and 3rd worst totals surrendered.

An appalling 52 of Illinois’ 64 shot attempts were either dunks, layups, or threes. It was akin to a practice against the scout team. Transition, second chances, drives to the hoop, catch and shoot jumpers. The Illini shot 62% on twos and 48% on threes, knocking down more triples than Michigan attempted.

There’s just no resistance from this Michigan defense, which is down to 181st nationally.

The embarrassing losses are piling up, but the hopelessness of the situation is still far worse than any single result. Blowout losses are frustrating when you know a team can play better. Knowing that this is precisely in line with expectations is a harsh reality.

This season is a disaster that has gone off the rails, and there’s no obvious fix, path forward, or rational reason to think it’ll be better any time soon.

Post-game video from Illinois 247, if you are interested and want to yell about Terrence Shannon Jr. being committed to Michigan or Juwan Howard bringing it up when asked Shannon, who scored 31 points on 15 shots in 28 minutes. 


Notable Replies

  1. Mgoblue_913

    I’m sure they all just want the season over, I know I do, I never turned it on and now I need to cancel Peacock.

  2. umhoops

    Don’t forget the first game of Michigan’s magical Big Ten Tournament run will be on Peacock!

  3. harmon98

    7 more recaps until this season is mercifully over. I’ll watch all 7 of these games and read all of the recaps too! Sicko!

  4. dandy_don

    What do I do Saturday ? Have always viewed myself as the loyal fan come good times or bad. Will find myself, I am sure, surrounded by MSU fans in “my” own arena. I guess with Dug playing and at home it won’t be the 30 point debacle we had tonight. Sparties are expecting that, I know, and so maybe if Michigan can keep it to within 10 points, at least the Sparties will be nervous??

  5. umhoops

    I think Michigan has a pretty good chance of playing decently against MSU.

    MSU wasn’t overly impressive in the game at the Breslin. The matchup isn’t horrible and MSU hasn’t been great on the road.

    Not saying Michigan will win, but you’d expect something more competitive just based on how the season has gone.

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