Game 17 preview | No. 14 Illinois at Michigan; 7:30 p.m., Thursday

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Beat writer Scott Richey breaks down the matchup between the Illini and Wolverines


No. 14 Illinois (12-4, 3-2 Big Ten)


G/F Ty Rodgers So. 6-6 6.2 Saginaw, Mich.

G/F Marcus Domask Gr. 6-6 14.9 Waupun, Wis.

G Luke Goode Jr. 6-7 7.7 Fort Wayne, Ind.

F Quincy Guerrier Gr. 6-8 11.1 Montreal

F Coleman Hawkins Sr. 6-10 10.5 Sacramento, Calif.

FYI: Rodgers has been all or nothing on the assists front in Illinois' last five games. The Illini's nominal point guard matched his season high with five assists each against Fairleigh Dickinson and Maryland and had four against Northwestern. Rodgers also had zero assists against Purdue and Michigan State.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Justin Harmon Gr. 6-4 6.2 Chicago

F/C Dain Dainja R-Jr. 6-9 6.7 Brooklyn Park, Minn.

G Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn Fr. 6-1 3.5 Lafayette, Ind.

Michigan (7-10, 2-4 Big Ten)


P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Dug McDaniel So. 5-11 17.6 Washington, D.C.

G Nimari Burnett Gr. 6-4 9.9 Chicago

F Terrance Williams II Sr. 6-7 12.9 Clinton, Md.

F Olivier Nkamhoua Gr. 6-9 17.1 Helsinki

C Tarris Reed Jr. So. 6-10 8.1 St. Louis

FYI: Nkamhoua is having a career year for the Wolverines after starting playing the last four seasons at Tennessee. A two-year starter for the Volunteers, the one-time Illinois recruiting target has set career highs in scoring (17.1 ppg), rebounding (7.5 rpg) and assists (2.6 apg) in a bigger role than he ever had in Knoxville, Tenn.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

F Will Tschetter R-So. 6-8 7.6 Stewartville, Minn.

G Jace Howard Jr. 6-8 0.0 Miami

G Jaelin Llewellyn Gr. 6-2 2.9 Mississauga, Ontario


Site: Crisler Center (13,751); Ann Arbor, Mich.

Radio: Brian Barnhart (play-by-play) and former Illini Deon Thomas (analysis) will have the call on the Illini Sports Network on WDWS 1400-AM, WDWS 93.9-FM, WHMS 97.5-FM, WPXN 104.9-FM, WDAN-1490-AM and WDNL 102.1-FM.

TV: Kevin Kugler (play-by-play) and former Illini Stephen Bardo (analysis) will have the call on FS1.

Series: Illinois leads 93-85.

Last meeting: Illinois won 91-87 in double overtime on March 2, 2023, in Champaign.

FYI: Brad Underwood has never lost to Juwan Howard, posting a 6-0 record against Michigan since the former Fab Five star became the Wolverines' coach. That success follows a stretch where Illinois rarely won against Michigan — and not at all in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Illini went 3-14 against the Wolverines from the end of the 2010-11 season through the end of the 2018-19 season.

Beat writer Scott Richey's storylines

Different kind of home-court advantage

Michigan guard Dug McDaniel is serving one of the more unique suspensions in college basketball. The Wolverines' scoring leader's six-game suspension includes road games only. "When we are away from Ann Arbor, he will work towards meeting several academic goals he has set and needs to meet," Michigan coach Juwan Howard said in an official statement. That means McDaniel will be on the court Thursday against Illinois. "He's a very, very dynamic point guard," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said of McDaniel. "He's got jet fuel. He's quick. He's fast. We've got to do a better job guarding him than we did Young (who had 28 points Sunday in Maryland's win against the Illini). ... It's just want to, desire, energy, talk."

Comfortable at the top of scouting report

Marcus Domask is in the midst of one of the most productive stretches of his career. The veteran Illinois guard has averaged 22 points, 5.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds since assuming the No. 1 role in the wake of Terrence Shannon Jr.'s suspension. It's better than his standout January last season at Southern Illinois (17.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.7 apg and two 30-point performances). And it's on par with a four-game stretch midway through his junior season with the Salukis (22.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 3.5 apg against less significant competition). "He's super comfortable in it, and he's come into that role beautifully," Illinois sophomore guard Ty Rodgers said. "I think Marcus is a great player, and I think he should be All-Big Ten. He's continuing to prove himself night in and night out. He shows everybody what he can do."

New-look Wolverines without Dickinson

Hunter Dickinson was a staple in the Michigan frontcourt the past three seasons and the central figure around which the Wolverines operated offensively. Now, Dickinson is the starting center for No. 3 Kansas and Michigan has turned to a combination of Tarris Reed Jr., Olivier Nkamhoua and Terrance Williams II in a new-look operation. Reed gives the Wolverines a physical post presence, Nkamhoua is an inside-outside threat and Williams has turned into a power wing who can space the floor. "They're not as reliant on their frontcourt as they were with Hunter — where they went to Hunter quite a bit," Underwood said. "They pick and choose their spots and are more balanced across the frontline than they have been in the past."

The News-Gazette's pick

No. 14 Illinois 81, Michigan 74

Michigan has already taken four losses at home this season. Two in nonconference play against Long Beach State (yikes) and McNeese State (strong effort by Will Wade's squad). Two in league play to Indiana and Minnesota. What's one more? The Wolverines have the benefit of Dug McDaniel with the game in Ann Arbor, Mich., but they've had their point guard on the court in the four games they've lost, too. Illinois is favored for a reason. As long as it's not a repeat of Sunday's series of missteps against Maryland, the Illini can snag a second Big Ten road win (N-G prediction record: 14-2).