The Michigan Wolverines will take on the Illinois Fighting Illini in what should be an exciting Big Ten matchup.
Michigan, considered by many to be the best team in the nation, has gotten off to an 18-1 start and is sitting near the top of the college basketball rankings as the No. 2 team in the country.
Thanks to Duke's blowout loss to Miami, Michigan has an opportunity to become the No. 1 team in college basketball, but this game will be a must win if the Wolverines hope to do that.
On the flip side, Illinois is 15-5 and unranked. The Fighting Illini are coming into this game having lost three of their last four matchups and are clearly struggling at both ends of the floor.
It's safe to say that a matchup with one of the best teams in the nation couldn't have come at a worse time for Illinois.
Let's take a look at everything you need to know for this game.
When: Sunday, Jan. 27 at 6:00 p.m. ET
Where: Assembly Hall, Champaign, Illinois
Watch: Big Ten Network (Check local listings)
Live Stream: BTN2Go.com
Key Players to Watch
Trey Burke, Guard
Burke is easily the most talented player on this team and everything that Michigan does on the offensive end goes through him.
Not only is he the team's leading scorer with 17.8 points per game and a field goal percentage above 50 percent, but Burke also facilitates his team's offense, averaging 7.2 assists per contest. For a team averaging 78.7 points per game, Burke can account for over a third of Michigan's output on a normal night.
Burke also gets it done on the opposite end of the floor as the talented guard has proven to be a pesky defender (1.3 steals per game) and a decent rebounder (2.9 rebounds per game).
If Illinois wishes to win this game, it must inhibit anything Burke tries to get going.
Glenn Robinson III, Forward
As far as interior presences on this team goes, Robinson III is it despite his 6'6'' frame.
The Michigan "big man" has displayed dominance on the inside this season as the team's leading rebounder. Granted, Robinson III's season average of 5.9 rebounds per game isn't all that astounding to look at, but this young man is a double-double threat each and every night.
Offensively, Robinson III is a talented finisher when he's close to the rim. His strength and athleticism allows him to punish interior defenders by banging bodies and finishing strong, but he also has a solid outside game.
Robinson III is averaging 12.1 points per game and isn't too shabby of a passer either. While we'd like to see him become a better shot blocker at the college level, he is still one of the best interior defenders this team has.
Brandon Paul, Guard
A senior, Paul has gotten better each and every year he's played at Illinois.
That progression has now come to a head as Paul is the team's leader in points per game (18), rebounds per game (4.8) and is slightly trailing teammate Tracy Abrams in assists per game (3).
Paul's offensive prowess is well-documented this season, but he is still a very good all-around player. On the defensive end, Paul is averaging 1.3 steals per game and is even notching almost one block per contest.
Along with Abrams, Paul will be looking to create most of the offense for the Fighting Illini, so clearly stopping this team starts with stopping their star guard.
D.J. Richardson, Guard
Richardson's potential has been flashed before our eyes this season, but he finally broke through in Illinois' last win against Nebraska.
Richardson scorched the Cornhuskers for 30 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including a lights-out performance from beyond the arc on 6-of-9 shooting. It was the first time we have seen Richardson explode offensively this season.
On average, Richardson is scoring 11.8 points per game, but has contributed in other areas with 4.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.6 steals per contest.
If Michigan isn't careful, Richardson can burn them from any spot on the floor, so it's imperative that the Wolverines get a hand in Richardson's face at all times.
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