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Michigan women’s basketball: Wolverines best No. 24 Illinois, improve to 18-5

The Wolverines are now 18-5 on the season (8-4 Big Ten).



Photo: @Adiel_Photography (Instagram)

On Thursday, the 18th/19th-ranked Michigan women’s basketball team (18-5, 8-4 Big Ten) put its 7-3 home record to the test against UR/No. 24 the Illinois Fighting Illini (17-6, 7-5 Big Ten) at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, MI. The Wolverines have now won two-straight heading into their matchup at Michigan State (11-10, 3-7 Big Ten) this weekend.

Michigan came into tonight’s matchup ranked 18th in the AP poll, and 19th in the coaches poll; meanwhile, Illinois entered tonight unranked in the AP poll and ranked 24th in the coaches poll. Both teams were ranked in both majors polls a week ago, though costly losses over the past week have knocked both down a few spots.

Wolverines earn quality victory vs. Illinois

Heading into tonight’s contest, Michigan and Illinois appeared to be a relatively even matchup. The game appeared to come down to Michigan’s defense — which gave 2.2 points-per-game fewer than the Illini — against Illinois’ offense — which scored 2.0 points-per-game more than the Wolverines did per game.

The strong point of Illinois’ offense is its 3-point shooting — the Illini entered tonight’s game shooting nearly 39 percent from three (compared to the Wolverines’ 35.2 percent). That being said, Michigan women’s basketball came into tonight’s matchup shooting better from the floor and the charity stripe — two significant factors in the Wolverines’ win.

This year, the magic number for the Michigan women’s basketball team is 60; the Wolverines are now 12-0 when they hold their opponents to 60 or less throughout the game. Tonight, Michigan did just that en route to an impressive 17-point victory.

Michigan’s win tonight puts the Wolverines one step closer to appearing in their 50th-consecutive AP poll next week — the 8th-longest active streak in college basketball. If Michigan women’s basketball can defeat the Spartans on Sunday, it all but guarantees that the Wolverines’ streak will remain in-tact.

Michigan women’s basketball plays tremendous first half

First quarter

After winning the game’s opening tip, Michigan and Illinois traded defensive blows before the Wolverines broke the 0-0 tied behind a short jumper from 5th-year guard Leigha Brown. 5th-year forward Emily Kiser buried a pair of free throws to give the Wolverines a 4-0 lead, which quickly became a 6-0 lead behind a layup from junior forward Cameron Williams.

Michigan’s lead grew to 10-2 behind another beautiful basket from Cameron Williams but was cut to just three points after Illinois scored on back-to-back possessions. The Fighting Illini continued their scoring run with a pair of free throws from junior guard Genesis Bryant, who brought the game within one point. Leigha Brown extended Michigan’s lead to three points a few possessions later with a short jump shot.

Once again, Michigan women’s basketball and the Fighting Illini traded defensive blows as the quarter ended. After one, the Wolverines held a 14-9 lead over Illinois.

Second quarter

Michigan women’s basketball opened up the second quarter of action by trading more defensive blows with the Illini. After a few possessions, Michigan sophomore guard Jordan Hobbs buried a turnaround jumper that pushed Michigan’s lead to 16-9. After forcing a pair of turnovers, the Wolverines extended their lead to 18-9 before Illinois got back on the board, making it an 18-11 ballgame.

An “and-1” play by Leigha Brown again gave Michigan women’s basketball even more momentum — Brown sunk her free throw to make it a 10-point ballgame before an Illinois 3-pointer brought the game within seven.

Soon after the Fighting Illini nailed a 3-ball, the Wolverines responded with one of their own from senior guard Maddie Nolan. Nolan’s 3-pointer gave Michigan women’s basketball a 26-14 lead and forced an Illinois timeout. Back-to-back Michigan baskets out of the timeout pushed the Wolverines’ lead to 31-14 before junior guard/forward Elise Stuck earned Michigan three more points with a basket and a free throw of her own.

With four minutes remaining in half, Michigan’s lead was up to 22 points after a layup by Emily Kiser. A Maddie Nolan 3-pointer got Crisler on its feet as the Wolverines’ lead grew to 39-16 before the half. At the end of the half, the Crisler Center jumbotron read: Michigan 41, Illinois 22.

Michigan women’s basketball is now 18-0 on the season when leading at halftime, an impressive statistic to say the least.

Wolverines finish the job in the second half

Third quarter

Michigan women’s basketball opened up the second half with a quick defensive stop and an ensuing basket — the Wolverines’ lead was extended to 21 before an Illinois foul gave Michigan the ball back. Michigan’s 41-22 halftime lead quickly fell to a 43-28 lead — nothing that had fans anxious; however, something that the Wolverines needed to work out.

As the Wolverines’ offense stuttered to start the half, Illinois climbed within 13 points (45-32) before Emily Kiser got the Wolverines back on the board. The Illini responded to keep the game within 13 before a media timeout sent both teams to their respective benches. An Illinois 3-pointer fresh out of the break brought Michigan’s lead within ten before Emily Kiser scored her 8th point, giving the Wolverines a 12-point lead.

A pair of baskets from sophomore guard Ari Wiggins gave the Wolverines a 55-41 lead with only one quarter remaining.

Fourth quarter

To open the game’s final quarter of play, Michigan women’s basketball continued to see its offense stutter. The Wolverines could not manage to score after a minute of play, though the Illini did and cut Michigan’s lead back down to 12. The Fighting Illini did just that — fight their way back into the contest. Michigan’s offense seemed to fall apart in the game’s later stages as Illinois attempted to mount a comeback.

With just five minutes remaining, Illinois had clawed its way back into the game yet still trailed 59-51. A pair of free throws by Leigha Brown extended Michigan’s lead back to 10, though it was cut back down to eight by the Fighting Illini on the ensuing possession. After continuing to trade shots, the Wolverines managed to pull ahead by 11 behind free throws by Leigha Brown and freshman forward Chyra Evans.

Michigan women’s basketball was tested from the free throw line as the game wound. Michigan’s shooting from the charity stripe was good enough to get the Wolverines’ double-digit lead back and close out the game with a victory.

When the clock hit all zeros, Michigan took home a 74-57 win to kick off February.

Michigan downs Illinois behind Leigha Brown’s massive performance

A week after scoring a career-high 31 points against No. 6 Indiana, Leigha Brown scored an impressive 27 points in Michigan’s victory over Illinois. The Wolverines also saw great performances from Maddie Nolan and Emily Kiser, who both finished with 10 points all said and done.

Michigan now must hit the road to face Michigan State at the Breslin Center on Sunday at 3 pm (EST). The game will be broadcast on BTN+.

Michigan women’s basketball is now 18-5 on the season, though it still sits a few games back in the Big Ten title picture. Still, the Wolverines are on the right track to a solid NCAA tournament seed and more later this year. Over the past two seasons, head coach Kim Barnes-Arico and Co. brought the Wolverines’ program to new heights with a Sweet 16 run in 2021, and an Elite 8 finish a year ago.

Next month, KBA and the Wolverines will look to break through Michigan’s new glass ceiling and hang even more prestigious banners from the rafters of the Crisler Center.

Thank you for reading Blue by Ninety. For more Michigan Athletics content from Blue by Ninety, follow us on TwitterFacebookand Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email our Managing Editor at or DM him on Twitter, @CJsWrld_.


Michigan women’s basketball moving on to the second round

Michigan and March just go hand-in-hand.



Mar 17, 2023; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Michigan Wolverines drives to the basket against UNLV Lady Rebels forward Alyssa Brown (44) during the second half at Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

January, February, Michigan, April. It’s officially the best time of the year as Michigan women’s basketball heads to the annual March Madness in the NCAA Tournament. Following a cold streak to end the season this year, going 2-4 in their final six games, the Wolverines enter the tournament as a 6-seed.

In their first game, Michigan got paired up against UNLV, an 11-seed on a 22-game win streak heading into the tournament. Needless to say, the Rebels were hot and had all the confidence in the world, as they had not lost a game since mid-December. Still, that hot streak wasn’t quite enough, as the Wolverines would go on to win the first-round matchup 71-59.

1st Quarter

It immediately became clear that this would be a physical game, with both teams not afraid to take a shot or two. After a few empty possessions in a row, Kiser got the scoring started with a deep 3-point shot. From here, the teams went back and forth, leading to a close initial battle.

Through bodies hitting the floor and whistles blowing, the physical first quarter led to a total of six personal fouls called through the first 10 minutes. The intensity was apparent right from the get-go.

While the game was close early on, with the score tied 7-7 just around 4 minutes into the match, Leigha Brown decided she’d had enough. Brown would go on to score four straight for the Wolverines, leading her team to make a run late in the first.

Michigan pulled away late in the quarter, entering the second leading 17-9.

2nd Quarter

Following a 12-2 run to close the 1st quarter, the scoring continued for the Wolverines as they put their foot on the gas. Michigan scored the first five points of the quarter, while senior guard Maddie Nolan scored five points by herself within the first minute and a half.

It also became apparent in this quarter that the UNLV Rebels could not compete with Michigan’s height and length. The Wolverines implemented trapping into their defense, forcing the shorter UNLV guards into difficult positions, leading to plenty of turnovers.

If the Rebels didn’t make a change fast, it was becoming clear that the game could be getting away from them soon, and that’s precisely what they did. Making use of a full-court press and some open 3-point shots, UNLV would go on a 9-1 run, closing the gap to just 25-20 with a little over two minutes remaining in the half.

Still, despite the run, the Wolverines’ defense, with six steals and two blocks, would take Michigan to the locker room ahead by eight points, leading 28-20.

3rd Quarter

To start the third, UNLV was prepped and ready to go, scoring in two straight possessions and forcing a turnover on the Wolverine’s first possession of the quarter. It was clear that the shots were starting to fall, and Michigan was beginning to lose that controlling lead they found in the first half as it came as close as being a three-point game.

However, that’s as close as it would get in the quarter as the Wolverines’ senior presence began to shine with players like Leigha Brown, Maddie Nolan and Emily Kiser all making big play after big play en route to yet another Michigan women’s basketball run, bringing the lead back up to 12 points within a matter of minutes.

To finish off the quarter, the physical nature of the game once again came to the forefront as personal fouls, and taped-up scratches became the focus. Still, through it all, Michigan took a strong 54-43 lead into the final quarter.

4th Quarter

Heading into the fourth quarter, it was important for Michigan to simply hold on to the lead and not allow UNLV to claw their way back into the game. Still, Maddie Nolan showed early on that it wouldn’t be an issue, hitting a 3-point shot straight away, her fourth 3-pointer on the day.

If the Rebels wanted to make a comeback, it was important that their defense could shine and not allow the teams to trade baskets. Unfortunately for them, there are too many weapons on the Wolverines’ offense, and coach Kim Barnes Arico and company were able to close out the game with relative ease. Michigan women’s basketball would go on to take the game 71-59.


Ultimately, despite being a close game early on, Michigan women’s basketball had a controlling lead for most of the game. The Wolverines’ defense was elite throughout the game, forcing 14 turnovers and holding star UNLV forward Desi-Rae Young to just 11 points on the day.

Michigan’s offense wasn’t too shabby either, with star seniors Emily Kiser and Maddie Nolan leading the way with 18 points each. Guard Laila Phelia led the team in rebounds with 11, while guard Leigha Brown led in assists with seven on the day. It was a genuinely dominant showing from the Wolverines, and now, Michigan women’s basketball has officially won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament five years in a row.

Looking Ahead

As is NCAA Tournament tradition, things only get more challenging the deeper you get into March Madness. Looking toward the future, Michigan prepares to faceoff against either LSU or Hawaii in the second-round, who are set to play each other today at 5:30 p.m. EST.

LSU is by far the favorite to move forward in the tournament, as the Tigers out of Baton Rouge, LA have lost just two games all year. The fact they find themselves as a 3-seed is almost criminal, as LSU has proven to be one of the best teams in the country all season long. While you have to beat the best to be the best, I’m sure Michigan fans wouldn’t mind watching the Rainbow Wahines upset the Tigers in tonight’s matchup.

Still, no matter who the Wolverines play in the next round, it’s important they bring their A-game as it is March and anything can happen. The Wolverines are set to play again this Sunday, March 19, 2023.

Thank you for reading Blue by Ninety. For more Michigan Athletics content from Blue by Ninety, follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email our Managing Editor at Also, be sure to check out our shop and our podcast, which is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and all other steaming platforms. It is because of your support that we have become one of the fastest and most influential Michigan media outlets there is!

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Michigan basketball draws Toledo in the NIT first round

Michigan basketball isn’t done yet as they get set to face Toledo in the NIT.




Dec 29, 2022; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines forward Tarris Reed Jr. (32) dribbles against Central Michigan Chippewas forward Markus Harding (15) in the first half at Crisler Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

With ‘Selection Sunday’ come and gone, what every Wolverine fan already knew has become official. Michigan basketball will miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015. This is undoubtedly a disappointing way for the 2022-23 season to finish for fans, but it should not surprise anyone.

Going into last weekend’s Big Ten tournament, most knew that the Wolverines needed to win, or at least make a deep run, to make the field of 68. Those hopes were dashed rather quickly, as Michigan fell swiftly and in embarrassing fashion to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the opening round, 62-50.

Now, many questions arise over the direction of the men’s basketball program, primarily regarding where exactly it goes from here. Wolverine fans didn’t have to wait long to find out, as it was announced late Sunday night that Michigan would be a No. 3 seed in the NIT tournament and face the MAC conference regular season champions, the Rockets of Toledo. The opening round game will tip-off Tuesday at 7 p.m. EST at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor.

A look at the Rockets

The Toledo Rockets will head into the NIT tournament undeniably disappointed and ready to win after missing out on what could have been their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1980. After tearing through the MAC regular season with an impressive 16-2 record, Toledo lost their automatic bid to Kent State in the MAC tournament championship game, 93-78.

This loss came after winning 17 straight games, going back to early January. Interestingly enough, the Rockets’ last loss before the MAC tournament also came against Kent State, in a 75-63 decision in Kent, OH. The only other MAC opponent to beat the Rockets came against Ball State in the conference opener.

Toledo went 9-4 in their non-conference slate, including impressive wins over UAB (25-9), Northern Kentucky (22-12), who just won the Horizon League tournament and punched their ticket to ‘March Madness’ for just the third time in school history, and Vermont (23-10), who will also be joining NKU in the NCAA tournament after winning the American East conference regular season and tournament.

Michigan basketball and Toledo shared one common opponent on the season, Central Michigan, who likely cost the Wolverines an at-large bid with their stunning upset in Ann Arbor earlier this year. Toledo handled their business against the Chippewas this season, winning both matchups by comfortable, twenty-plus point margins.

Offense a-plenty

Michigan basketball will be tasked with facing one of the most potent offenses in the nation, as they average a whopping 85.7 points per game this season, good for second behind only Gonzaga. With all that scoring, it’s unsurprising that Toledo shoots the ball well, as they rank 4th in the nation in total field goal percentage shooting 49.6 percent on the year. Even more impressively, the Rockets shot 40.5 percent from three-point range, which is good for second in the country.

Toledo is led in scoring by senior guard Rayj Dennis (19.8 points per game), to go along with three other double-digit scorers: Setric Millner (16.2), JT Shumate (16.1) and Dante Maddux (11.4). The offense doesn’t stop there, though, as Tyler Cochran (9.6) and Ra’Heim Moss (8.3) are also close to the mark. Millner leads the team in rebounding (5.9 per game), while Dennis tops the team in assists (5.7).

Defense not so much

For as good as the offense is, the flip side of that coin, and what ultimately kept them out of the ‘Big Dance,’ is Toledo’s defense, which ranks an abysmal 321st in the nation in scoring, giving up 76.1 points per game. Toledo also doesn’t rebound the basketball efficiently, as they currently rank 202nd in the country with just 34.5 rebounds per game. To go along with the poor effort on the glass, the Rockets turn the ball over 9.7 times per game, ranking 8th in the nation.

The Rockets will also face a considerable size deficit, as no significant contributor stands taller than 6-foot-7 (Shumate). One key to a Michigan basketball victory could come down low in the post, as Hunter Dickinson (7-foot-1) and Tarris Reed Jr. (6-foot-10) should have plenty of opportunities to dominate the Rockets’ smaller lineup. This isn’t to say Toledo has no height at all, as AJ Edu (6-foot-10) and Andre Lorrentsson (6-foot-8) could match up well with Michigan bigs, but neither average more than 12.2 minutes, or 2.7 points per game.

Altogether, the game will be a decently tough matchup for the Wolverines, which may surprise some considering it’s the first round of the NIT. Still, it’s by no means an unwinnable game for Michigan, especially being at home in the Crisler Center. At home, the Wolverines posted a 13-5 record this season and only have two losses this calendar year, both to tournament teams (Purdue and Indiana).

A little history

Michigan basketball has faced the Toledo Rockets thirteen times in school history but boasts a disappointing 7-6 record against them. To be fair, the Wolverines are a much better 3-0 since 1980, and three of the losses came pre-1970 (1968, 1950, 1948). Michigan won the only matchup since 1984, a 91-71 final during the 2020-’21 season.

The Rockets have appeared in 10 NIT tournaments but will be looking to win their first game since 2001. Michigan, meanwhile, has appeared in 11 NIT tournaments and won three (1984, 1997, 2004), although the 1997 title was vacated due to NCAA sanctions.

The game also adds a bit of a ‘revenge factor’ for Michigan football fans, as many undoubtedly remember Toledo handing the Wolverines their worst loss in modern school history. It was a woeful 13-10 final at ‘The Big House’ in Rich Rodriguez’s first season in 2008. This is still the football team’s lone loss to a MAC opponent ever.

Thank you for reading Blue by Ninety. For more Michigan Athletics content from Blue by Ninety, follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email our Managing Editor at Also, be sure to check out our shop and our podcast, which is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and all other steaming platforms. It is because of your support that we have become one of the fastest and most influential Michigan media outlets there is!

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Tom Izzo quotes Bo Schembechler on Michigan State’s Senior Day

During the Spartans’ senior day, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo quoted the late Bo Schmbechler.



Tom Izzo
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

On Saturday, the Michigan State Spartans’ men’s basketball team faced off against the Ohio State Buckeyes in their final home game of the season. Michigan State went on to win 84-78 over the Buckeyes and improved to 19-11 ahead of this week’s Big Ten tournament. During Michigan State’s senior day, Spartan legend and head coach Tom Izzo had the chance to speak, and turned heads by quoting the late Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler.

Tom Izzo quotes Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

From 1969-1989, the Michigan Wolverines’ football team was coached by Bo Schembechler. Bo is known for shaping the identity of the Wolverines’ program, though recent allegations against him covering up sexual abuse at UM are a dark mark on his otherwise impressive coaching resume. During his time in Ann Arbor, Schembechler won 194 of his 247 games, claiming 13 Big Ten titles during his 21 years on Michigan’s sideline.

Considering Tom Izzo is a Michigan State legend himself, it was odd hearing him (reluctantly) quote Bo Schembechler.

What did Izzo have to say?

Here is Tom Izzo’s quote:

“There’s a process to this whole thing,” Izzo said. “Sometimes it takes longer than others but, I guess it was Bo Schembechler – I hate to say it – but ‘Those Who Stay Will Be Champions’.”

It takes a bold or foolish man to quote any Michigan Man in East Lansing — especially on as big of a stage as we saw during Michigan State’s Senior Day — though if anyone can (and did) get away with it, it would be Tom Izzo.

Thank you for reading Blue by Ninety. For more Michigan Athletics content from Blue by Ninety, follow us on TwitterFacebookand Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email our Managing Editor at Also, be sure to check out our shop and our podcast, which is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and all other steaming platforms. It is because of your support that we have become one of the fastest and most influential Michigan media outlets there is!

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