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Will No. 2 Michigan, after beating Illinois, move to the top of the polls?

Jan 27, 2013, 8:14 PM EDT

Michigan v Illinois Getty Images

With 40 minutes standing between themselves and a possible top spot in the national polls, No. 2 Michigan played like a team that couldn’t care less what their ranking is.

Point guard Trey Burke led four Wolverines in double figures with 19 points to go along with five rebounds, five assists and three steals, and as a team the Wolverines shot 52.5% from the field in beating Illinois 74-60 in Champaign.

With the win Michigan moves to 19-1 overall and 6-1 in the Big Ten, and they remain tied for first with No. 7 Indiana. Besides the offensive execution Michigan’s win was also impressive due to the fact that starting center Jordan Morgan was lost two minutes into the game due to a sprained right ankle.

With Morgan out of the lineup the Wolverines didn’t skip a beat, with freshmen Jon Horford, Mitch McGary and Max Bielfeldt giving them solid minutes inside. That trio combined to tally 17 points and 15 rebounds, a welcome bonus with the other four starters all reaching double figures.

Illinois once again struggled from beyond the arc, shooting 6-of-22 from deep and that has become a theme for the Fighting Illini in conference play. John Groce’s team has shot better than better than 30% from three in just two Big Ten games, and given their lack of a post scorer Illinois needs to get going from deep before it becomes too late.

Brandon Paul led Illinois with 15 points and D.J. Richardson added 12, and things won’t get easier as their next four games are at No. 13 Michigan State, Wisconsin and No. 7 Indiana at home and at No. 17 Minnesota.

But back to the Wolverines, who on Monday could return to the top spot in the polls for the first time since the 1992-93 season, when the “Fab Five” were all the rage in Ann Arbor and throughout college basketball.

Who should the pollsters pick: Michigan or Kansas, who entered this week ranked second in the Coaches Poll? According to the Jayhawks have more RPI Top 50 wins (seven to Michigan’s four) and both teams can claim ten wins against RPI Top 100 teams if you prefer to use resumes as the basis for selection.

But the only thing that’s certain in this debate is that both would place far greater value on being atop the polls on April 9. That’s the day after the national championship game.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

  1. xli2006 - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    1) Mich
    2) Kansas
    3) IU
    4) Florida
    5) Syracuse
    6) Duke

    The IU/Mich showdown in Bloomington next weekend w/ College Gameday in town just got a lot more interesting.

  2. osubrndn - Jan 27, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    It’s “couldn’t care less”, couldn’t.

    You dolt.

    • Raphielle Johnson - Jan 27, 2013 at 9:01 PM

      Yup, you’re right. And that comma you have should go inside of the quote, not outside of it. Since we’re in the business of correcting people.

      • torrigjp - Jan 27, 2013 at 11:00 PM

        wah wah wah, I’m a writer for a living and someone corrected my grammar.

      • florida727 - Jan 28, 2013 at 9:09 AM

        Raphielle, I do enjoy your work so don’t take this personally, but you are in the journalism business. Part of your job is to be grammatically correct. It should be a source of pride for you, personally, to be error-free in your reporting. Part of your job is to report the story obviously, but a part of it too is to be literary proper. There’s nothing wrong with us expecting that from guys like you and John Taylor and Ben and Rob D. and others. Heck, I rarely watch SportsCenter anymore knowing I can get facts and stories from you guys.

  3. stinkythumbs - Jan 27, 2013 at 9:08 PM


  4. florida727 - Jan 28, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    Michigan’s next in line, so I have no problem with them being the one ascending to the top spot. Anyone in the Top 25 of the polls shouldn’t care where they ranked. If it was a matter of the #1 seed in the Midwest getting a home game when they meet #2 in the regional title game to go to the Final Four, that would be one thing, but since all tournament games are essentially played on neutral sites, I think the rankings are more for fan bragging than anything meaningful to the teams themselves.

  5. hockeyfan28 - Jan 28, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    Didn’t Dan Hanner rank these guys no.44 in the country? Someone keep him away from a bar when the AP comes out later today

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