Game 24 preview | Michigan at No. 14 Illinois; 6 p.m., Peacock

Feb. 13—Beat writer Scott Richey breaks down the matchup between the Illini and Wolverines:


No. 14 Illinois (17-6, 8-4 Big Ten)


G/F Marcus Domask Gr. 6-6 15.5 Waupun, Wis.

G Terrence Shannon Jr. Sr. 6-6 20.5 Chicago

G/F Ty Rodgers So. 6-6 7.0 Saginaw, Mich.

F Quincy Guerrier Gr. 6-8 10.7 Montreal

F Coleman Hawkins Sr. 6-10 12.1 Sacramento, Calif.

FYI: Hawkins' seven assists in Saturday's loss at Michigan State were a season-high — three off the career-high 10 he had in his triple-double against Syracuse last season. Handed the keys to Illinois' "booty ball" offense, Hawkins notched multiple assists in a single game for the 14th time this season. The veteran forward is one of four Illini averaging at least 2.3 assists, with his 2.8 assists per game trailing on Domask's 3.4.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Luke Goode Jr. 6-7 7.0 Fort Wayne, Ind.

G Justin Harmon Gr. 6-4 6.8 Chicago

F/C Dain Dainja R-Jr. 6-9 5.6 Brooklyn Park, Minn.

Michigan (8-16, 3-10 Big Ten)


P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

G Jaelin Llewellyn Gr. 6-2 5.5 Mississauga, Ontario

G Nimari Burnett Gr. 6-4 9.7 Chicago

F Terrance Williams II Sr. 6-7 12.2 Clinton, Md.

F Olivier Nkamhoua Gr. 6-9 15.0 Helsinki

F Tarris Reed Jr. So. 6-10 8.7 St. Louis

FYI: Nkamhoua ran off 17 double-digit scoring performances in his first 18 games with Michigan, including 16 straight after putting up just nine points in the Wolverines' Gavitt Tipoff Games win against St. John's on Nov. 13. That consistency has abandoned the Tennessee transfer in his last six games, as Nkamhoua is averaging nine points and shooting just 37 percent from the field and 19 percent from three-point range in that stretch. He was a 53/37/70 shooter in his first 18 games.

Off the bench

P Name Yr. Ht. PPG Hometown

F Will Tschetter R-So. 6-8 7.0 Stewartville, Minn.

F Tray Jackson Gr. 6-10 5.1 Detroit

G George Washington III Fr. 6-2 1.1 Austin, Texas


Site: State Farm Center (15,544); Champaign

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: Noah Eagle (play-by-play) and former Illini Stephen Bardo (analysis) will have the call on Peacock.

Series: Michigan leads 93-86.

Last meeting: Illinois won 88-73 on Jan. 18 in Ann Arbor, Mich.

FYI: Michigan coach Juwan Howard is 0-7 against Illinois during his time with the Wolverines. Other Michigan coaches have had much more success in the series. John Beilein was 16-8 against the Illini in his 12 seasons leading the Wolverines, including eight straight wins between 2011-14. His predecessor, Tommy Amaker, was 9-2 in the Illinois-Michigan series.

Beat writer Scott Richey's storylines

Underwood wants more defensively from Rodgers

Ty Rodgers played just eight minutes in the second half of Illinois' 88-80 loss at Michigan State. The sophomore guard scored six points on 3 of 4 shooting in 13 first-half minutes, but Illinois played Marcus Domask, Terrence Shannon Jr., Justin Harmon, Luke Goode and Coleman Hawkins for much of the second half. Illini coach Brad Underwood liked the spacing that group provided offensively. Rodgers' presence changes that equation, as cross-matching from opposing defenses — namely putting a 4 or 5 on Rodgers — changes the matchups Illinois gets. "I should have probably played him," Underwood said about not using Rodgers late. "Ty's playing really well on the offensive end. We've got to get him back guarding and being the presence we know he can be on the defensive side."

Illini trying to avoid back-to-back losses

Just five Big Ten teams — Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern, Michigan State and Nebraska — have avoided a three-game losing streak this season. That's five of the top six teams in the conference standings and a group Wisconsin fell out of given it has lost four straight. Of those five, however, only Purdue and Illinois have managed to not lose consecutive games. The Illini will try to maintain that Tuesday night. "We just go out and play as hard as we can and just play our game," Harmon said. "Good teams always find a way to win. That's what we try to do every night."

Wolverines playing without their leading scorer

Dug McDaniel won't play Tuesday night in Champaign, as he continues to serve the oddest suspension in college basketball. The Michigan sophomore was suspended from all road games — and just road games — roughly a month ago. While the Wolverines have only won twice since mid-December as their season crumbled around them, both of those wins came in Ann Arbor, Mich., with McDaniel on the court averaging 15.5 points. Without him, Michigan lost by seven at Maryland, 32 at Purdue, 19 at Michigan State and 20 at Nebraska. "(Jaelin) Llewellyn is playing great," Underwood said. "Nimari Burnett is coming in and has been a backup point guard when Llewellyn is out. They maybe lose a little speed and quickness, but I don't see much difference. They're running the same stuff, and Llewellyn has just been a guy who's fit right in."

The News-Gazette's pick

No. 14 Illinois 85, Michigan 69

Illinois can't lose this game. Simple as that, to borrow a phrase from former Illini football coach Lovie Smith. Just can't lose. This is an Illinois team that still has designs on a conference championship — difficult as the race to catch Purdue might be — in addition to a shot at a top four seed in the NCAA tournament. Losing to Michigan would mean dropping a full seed line. And let's be honest, teams looking to make a run in March don't lose multiple Quad III games at home. (N-G prediction record: 20-3)