Chicago

Illini crush Michigan, take step to March Madness No. 1 seed

Chicago
USA TODAY

Illinois took the court Tuesday against No. 2 Michigan without star guard Ayo Dosunmu, missing his third straight game due to a facial injury sustained against Michigan State a week prior.

They still pulled out a dominant victory, and in doing so took another step toward locking up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament this month.

The No. 4 Fighting Illini (19-6, 15-4) took down the Wolverines (18-2, 13-2) 76-53 in Ann Arbor. Trent Frazier led the way with 22 points, with Andre Curbelo chipping in 17 off the bench.

It's Illinois' highest ranked road win in program history, topping victories over No. 3 Indiana on March 5, 1989 and No. 3 Kentucky on Dec. 5, 1966.

Illinois appears to be in the driver's seat for a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance, along with Gonzaga, Baylor and Michigan. They have one regular season game remaining against No. 7 Ohio State, this Saturday in Columbus.

The Buckeyes and Illini have seemingly swapped positions recently as far as bracket projections go. Ohio State was in good position for a No. 1 seed but have lost three straight games, two against ranked opponents (Michigan, Iowa).

The Buckeyes, 18-7 on the season (12-7 in conference) will finish behind Illinois in the Big Ten standings, no matter the result of Saturday's game. The same goes for No. 5 Iowa, as the Hawkeyes are 18-7 (12-6) with two conference games remaining (Nebraska, No. 25 Wisconsin).

Anything can happen over the next few weeks, especially with the always entertaining Big Ten Tournament looming. But things appear to be coming up all Fighting Illini.

 
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