Michigan didn’t get to leave for the Big Ten Tournament as expected Wednesday, but the plan is still for the Wolverines and Illinois to tip off Day 2 action Thursday.
Michigan’s charter plane from Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti was involved in a runway accident caused when high winds forced an aborted takeoff Wednesday afternoon. Everyone on the plane was safely evacuated but the incident forced Michigan to wait until Thursday to travel to Washington D.C.
Early Wednesday evening, Wolverines coach John Beilein told Land of 10 that the plan was to still play the game at its scheduled noon ET tip-off time. Then late Wednesday night, Michigan announced its exact travel plans for Thursday:
Here is a travel update for #GoBlue
We can't wait to get to D.C. on Thursday and compete for Michigan! 〽 pic.twitter.com/HqZYiEoM7b
— Michigan Basketball (@umichbball) March 9, 2017
Once they finally take the court, the 8-seed Wolverines (20-11, 10-8 Big Ten) will face an Illini squad (18-13, 8-10) seeded No. 9 and with whom Michigan split two regular-season meetings — Illinois won in Champaign, 85-69, on Jan. 11, before Michigan took a 66-57 victory at Crisler Center 10 days later.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to watch/listen to the Michigan vs. Illinois matchup:
Michigan vs. Illinois: game time, details
Time: 12 p.m. ET tip-off
Date: Thursday, March, 9
Location: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
The line: Michigan is favored by 5 points.
Which TV channel station is Michigan vs. Illinois on?
The game will be broadcast on BTN.
How can I watch Michigan vs. Illinois online?
How can I listen to Michigan vs. Illinois on the radio?
Michigan: 950 AM (WWJ Detroit), 102.9 FM (WWWW Ann Arbor) and 1050 AM (WTKA Ann Arbor) are the primary stations for U-M Radio. Click here for all Michigan radio affiliates.
Illinois: 1400 AM (WDWS Champaign) and 670 AM (WSCR Chicago) are the main stations for the Illinois Fighting Illini Sports Network. Click here for all affiliates.
The game can also be heard on via Compass Media on Sirius/XM Channel 84 and Internet Channel 84.
Who is calling the Michigan vs. Illinois game?
BTN: Kevin Kugler will handle play-by-play for BTN with analyst Stephen Bardo and reporter Rick Pizzo.
Michigan radio: Matt Shepard will handle the play-by-play duties with analyst Terry Mills.
Illinois radio: Brian Barnhart does play-by-play with analyst Jerry Hester.
Compass Media (national radio): Drew Bontadelli does play-by-play with analyst Mike Wozniak.
Three keys to the Michigan vs. Illinois game
Rise and shine
Michigan must deal with the emotions of what was a scary situation on Wednesday, not to mention the oddity of traveling early in the day for a same-day noon game. There is no way to predict how the players will react to all that has happened to them in such a short period. Michigan has played as well as nearly any team in the conference the last month, winning 6 of its last 8 games, but this is a variable no one could see coming.
Value ball possession
Michigan leads the Big Ten in turnover margin with a plus-3.4 advantage each game, and leads the nation in fewest turnovers per game at 9.4. The Wolverines have had 22 games this season in which they’ve committed 10 or fewer turnovers.
It will be important for Illinois to minimize its turnovers. The Illini had just 11 in their win against Michigan at home; Michigan still had an 18-17 advantage on points off turnovers but damage was minimized. That wasn’t the case in Michigan’s victory in Ann Arbor, when the Wolverines had a 22-10 scoring advantage thanks to 17 Illinois turnovers.
Helping the senior stars
Illinois guard Malcolm Hill and Michigan guard Derrick Walton Jr. are the focal points of their teams, and each were recognized with second-team All-Big Ten honors this week. Which of their teammates step up in this game?
One match-up to watch will be Illinois senior center Maverick Morgan against Michigan sophomore big man Moritz Wagner. Morgan is a traditional inside player — he has never attempted a 3-point shot in college — while Wagner is perimeter-oriented with the ability to drive to the basket. How Illinois defends Wagner and Michigan’s outside shooting will determine the outcome.