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Michigan basketball coach breaks down Illinois matchup

The Wolverines will face the Fighting Illini with their backs against the wall tonight.



Michigan basketball

This Thursday, the Michigan basketball team will take on the Illinois Fighting Illini in their penultimate game of the regular season. The Wolverines are riding a three game win streak and are looking to solidify their spot as the second seed in the Big Ten tournament.

Saddi Washington breaks down important game notes for Michigan basketball

Ahead of the game, assistant coach Saddi Washington talked about the team’s mentality and preparation as tournament play approaches. “It’s go time”, Washington said, adding “… as we try to earn our way into seeding with the Big Ten tournament, as we try to earn our way into postseason play, you hope that this is the time of year your team starts trending in the right direction. We’re just gonna try to stay on course and gear ourselves up for a tough match against Illinois this Thursday.”

Midway through the season, the Wolverines were staring at an 11-10 record and a growing possibility that they would miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015. Many of their losses came from very close games, including a five point loss to Purdue who was ranked No. 1 at the time.

Despite the midseason struggles, Michigan basketball has won six of their last eight games. When asked about the team’s late season hot streak, Washington replied, “You know I think our guys are just having a very clear understanding of how important it is to live in the details.” He added, “Earlier in the year we were losing a lot of these tough games by close margins. Whether it was youth, whether it was experience, whether it was talent, whatever the denominators are that were contributing to us not finishing games, now it appears we’ve learned from our past failures.”

Michigan is peaking in March?

Washington emphasized the importance of overcoming the team’s midseason struggles and mentioned how it only makes the team stronger heading into March. He stated, “Failures are a big part of becoming successful, and now I think we’re in a better position to finish out some of these games as we move forward. In a week from now, the records won’t matter, so now it’s just playing the best at the right time of the year.”

Illinois currently sits two spots below Michigan in the Big Ten standings, with the Wolverines sitting at second and the Fighting Illini tied for fourth. Illinois is coming off of a 72-60 loss against the Ohio State Buckeyes, a team that the Wolverines beat earlier this season.

Wolverines facing a must-win game

“We have to worry about trying to get a really tough road win against a really tough Illinois opponent” Washington said, “If we can do that, then things continue to move forward for us, and you really want to be in a position to dictate your fate. You don’t want things to have to happen to you as a result of other people’s wins or losses.”

Lastly, Washington gave a status update on Jett Howard who has been out in recent games due to an ankle injury. Washington said, “It’s TBD. He’s been progressing, I know he’s been working really hard through his rehab to get back. He’s had a great attitude throughout in his support of his brothers in his absence. If and whenever he comes back we’re gonna be happy to have him.”

The Michigan basketball team will head to Champaign, IL to take on the Fighting Illini at 7 PM ET this Thursday.

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