Michigan v Illinois

Will No. 2 Michigan, after beating Illinois, move to the top of the polls?

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With 40 minutes standing between themselves and a possible top spot in the national polls, No. 2 Michigan played like a team that couldn’t care less what their ranking is.

Point guard Trey Burke led four Wolverines in double figures with 19 points to go along with five rebounds, five assists and three steals, and as a team the Wolverines shot 52.5% from the field in beating Illinois 74-60 in Champaign.

With the win Michigan moves to 19-1 overall and 6-1 in the Big Ten, and they remain tied for first with No. 7 Indiana. Besides the offensive execution Michigan’s win was also impressive due to the fact that starting center Jordan Morgan was lost two minutes into the game due to a sprained right ankle.

With Morgan out of the lineup the Wolverines didn’t skip a beat, with freshmen Jon Horford, Mitch McGary and Max Bielfeldt giving them solid minutes inside. That trio combined to tally 17 points and 15 rebounds, a welcome bonus with the other four starters all reaching double figures.

Illinois once again struggled from beyond the arc, shooting 6-of-22 from deep and that has become a theme for the Fighting Illini in conference play. John Groce’s team has shot better than better than 30% from three in just two Big Ten games, and given their lack of a post scorer Illinois needs to get going from deep before it becomes too late.

Brandon Paul led Illinois with 15 points and D.J. Richardson added 12, and things won’t get easier as their next four games are at No. 13 Michigan State, Wisconsin and No. 7 Indiana at home and at No. 17 Minnesota.

But back to the Wolverines, who on Monday could return to the top spot in the polls for the first time since the 1992-93 season, when the “Fab Five” were all the rage in Ann Arbor and throughout college basketball.

Who should the pollsters pick: Michigan or Kansas, who entered this week ranked second in the Coaches Poll? According to warrennolan.com the Jayhawks have more RPI Top 50 wins (seven to Michigan’s four) and both teams can claim ten wins against RPI Top 100 teams if you prefer to use resumes as the basis for selection.

But the only thing that’s certain in this debate is that both would place far greater value on being atop the polls on April 9. That’s the day after the national championship game.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Michigan gets Caris LeVert back in a win over No. 18 Purdue

Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan (50) tries to steal the ball from Michigan guard Caris LeVert (23) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
(AP Photo/Tony Ding)
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Zak Irvin scored 22 points and Michigan’s outmanned front line held Purdue’s redwoods to just seven offensive boards, six second chance points and just 22 points in the paint as the Wolverines landed a critical, 61-56, win over the No. 18 Boilermakers.

Depending on who you listen to, Michigan entered the day, at worst, on the bubble and at best, in headed for the 8-9 game.

And they picked up a top 25 win.

So yes, this win was big for them moving forward.

But more important than the win itself was that Wolverine fans got a glimpse of all-american guard Caris LeVert. He played just 11 points and didn’t return in the second half, he didn’t score and he missed the only shot that he took, but LeVert took the court for the first time since Dec. 30th. That day, LeVert rolled his left ankle and most likely reinjured a foot that had had a broken bone surgically repaired twice in the last 20 months. Michigan never confirmed what the actual injury was and never gave a timetable for when he would be back in the lineup, which is what made his brief appearance so important.

LeVert isn’t done for the season.

And since the Wolverines managed to post a 9-4 Big Ten record with LeVert acting as little more than a spectator, they have a chance to make a run in the Big Ten tournament and get into the NCAA tournament.

That will happen with LeVert in the rotation and, if all goes according to plan, the starting lineup.

So even with a loss against Purdue, the Wolverines had a good day. Bolstering their NCAA tournament profile was an added bonus.

VIDEO: Memphis’ Shaq Goodwin gets technical foul for copying famous Vince Carter dunk

Memphis forward Shaq Goodwin (2) shoots over Cincinnati forward Quadri Moore (0) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
(AP Photo/Gary Landers)
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Memphis senior forward Shaq Goodwin picked up one of the dumbest technical fouls of the season on Saturday with the Tigers on the road against Tulane. Goodwin attempted to copy Vince Carter’s famous arm-in-the-rim dunk from the 2000 NBA dunk contest. This would have been okay during pregame warmups, but Goodwin tried to pull this off on a breakaway near the end of the first half. He was quickly hit with the T for hanging on the rim.

Goodwin has good timing when it comes to current events, as the NBA’s dunk contest airs on Saturday night, but the timing of pulling this off in the first half of a tight conference game is not so great.

For past reference, here’s Carter’s original arm-in-the-rim dunk from 2000, which had everyone astonished since it had never been done before.

(H/T: The Cauldron)