Mar 4, 2014; Champaign, IL, USA; Michigan Wolverines forward Glenn Robinson III (1) dunks the ball during the first half against the Illinois Fighting Illini at State Farm Center. Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan shoots its way to Big Ten title at Illinois, 84-53

Mar 4, 2014; Champaign, IL, USA; Michigan Wolverines forward Glenn Robinson III (1) makes a three pointer during the first half in a Big Ten matchup against  Illinois Fighting at State Farm Center.  Credit: Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines had a storybook first half Tuesday night en route to the first prize of the 2013-14 campaign, a Big Ten regular season title.

The 84-53 win at Illinois gave Michigan (22-7, 14-3)  it’s first outright league championship since the 1985-86 season.

With just one game left at home Saturday (against Indiana 17-12, 7-9), the Wolverines lead both Michigan State and Wisconsin (each 11-5 in the Big Ten) by an insurmountable margin of two and a half games.

Sharing the ball

Michigan did a great job sharing the basketball in the early moments as all five starters had scored before five minutes elapsed on the clock.

Even Zak Irvin and Spike Albrecht joined the fun as the Wolverines shot their way to a 36-17 lead.  With 6:51 remaining in the first half, Michigan was shooting 70% from the floor (14-20) and 70% from beyond the arc (7-10).

All this was done against an Illinois team that won its last three games by holding its opponents to less than 50 points. By halftime (after Nik Stauskas drained a long three pointer) the Wolverines had 52  along with a 22-point lead.

Stauskas, who’s been mentioned as a Big Ten player of the year candidate, led the Wolverines with 24 points, Caris LeVert had 15, and Glenn Robinson III had 13.

Derrick Walton, Jr. had another all-around game with nine points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Wolverines cooled slightly in the second half, but not before tying the Michigan record for most threes in a game with 16.

Big Ten champs

“In this league, it (the regular-season championship) is valued so much more than others,” said head coach John Beilein before the game. “So it is a high priority for us to just go in and beat Illinois, and let the other stuff take care of itself. That’s the only focus we can have right now. If we can do that, that will be a great accomplishment.”

The Wolverines will undoubtedly be betting favorites in the upcoming Big Ten tourney, then it will be on to the madness of the NCAA tournament, where Michigan had a Cinderella-like run last year before losing to Louisville in the national championship game. ♦

Big Ten Standings

Michigan 14-3 21-7
Wisconsin 11-5 24-5
Michigan State 11-5 22-7
Iowa 9-7 20-9
Nebraska 9-7 17-11
Ohio State 9-8 22-8
Indiana 7-9 17-12
Minnesota 7-10 18-12
Illinois 6-10 17-12
Purdue 5-11 15-14
Penn State 5-11 14-15
Northwestern 5-11 12-17

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Joel Greer



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