The stakes are high for Michigan as they face Illinois

It’s no secret, Michigan’s game against Illinois has huge implications.

Despite a rocky start to the season, after a 6-2 game in February, the Wolverines are currently only No. 2 in the Big Ten standings. The top 4 teams receive a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament. A win tonight would move Michigan closer to securing that extra day off. In fact, Michigan still has a statistical chance of sharing the Big Ten regular season championship if they win their last two games and Purdue lose theirs.

Of course, all eyes are on march madness and the National Tournament.

Michigan has played itself into the bubble with three straight wins against Michigan State, Rutgers and Wisconsin. They are currently 4-9 in quad 1 games with their blatant quad 4 loss to Central Michigan staining their resumes.

A win against Illinois would give them another win on road quad 1, and likely put them in the “last 4 in” area, or the playing portion of the group. It could get more complicated depending on other results, but that seems like the most likely outcome.

A loss, and Michigan goes from just out of the tournament to somewhere around 5th or 6th team. Michigan would fall behind Big Ten teams Wisconsin and Penn State, hurting their future Big Ten tournament placement. That would make Indiana nothing short of a must-win, with Michigan’s path after two losses surely being just an automatic bid by winning the Big Ten Tournament.

Looking ahead to Michigan’s final game against Indiana, you would like to play for a 5th straight win and a secured double bye in the Big Ten Tournament. If Michigan won these next two games, they would be the 2nd seed in Big Ten Tournament, 6-9 in quad 1 games, and not just in the tournament, but probably a 9 or 10 seed with potential to move even higher with victories in the Big Ten Tournament. The variance from being safe in the tournament to not at all is incredible with only two games left in the regular season.

Of course, you can’t win both games if you don’t win the first one. Michigan is playing their best basketball at the right time and players have not pretended not to know what is at stake.

The Wolverines take on the Illini at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

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