Michigan cruises past Illinois
Champaign, IL (Sports Network) - Michigan capitalized on its opportunity of grasping college basketball's brass ring this time around.
And come Monday, the Maize and Blue will most likely sit atop the polls for the first time since the 1992-93 season.
Trey Burke tallied 19 points, five assists and five rebounds in No. 2 Michigan's 74-60 victory over Illinois.
Michigan had a chance to become the top team in the country two Sundays ago, but the Wolverines fell to arch-rival Ohio State in Columbus. Duke, currently the No. 1 squad in the nation, opened the door for a new top team when the Blue Devils were routed by Miami-Florida earlier in the week.
"You compete for a Big Ten championship, then you go on you compete for a national championship," Michigan head coach John Beilein said of his team possible being ranked first. "That's the No. 1 you want down the line."
Nik Stauskas scored 14 points for the Wolverines (19-1, 6-1 Big Ten), who have won two straight in Champaign on the heels of a 13-game slide. Tim Hardaway Jr. added 12 points.
Michigan forward Jordan Morgan left early with an apparent ankle injury and did not return.
Brandon Paul had 15 points to lead the Illini (15-6, 2-5), who have dropped four of their last five contests.
"I give Michigan a lot of credit," Illinois head coach John Groce said. "You make one mistake and they exploit it like that."
A Tracy Abrams jumper pulled the hosts within 41-37 early in the second half, but the Wolverines countered with a 9-0 flurry to seize control.
Stauskas nailed a 3-pointer and Burke's layup capped the mini burst and gave Michigan a 50-37 margin with 14:32 left.
The margin reached its apex at 70-52 on a Stauskas layup with 4:35 remaining and the visitors cruised the rest of the way.
Burke knocked down a jumper at the top of the key with four seconds left in the opening half to give the Maize and Blue a 35-27 cushion heading into the break.
Glenn Robinson III had 12 points and seven rebounds for Michigan ... Michigan shot 52.5 percent (31-of-59) from the floor, while Illinois was 37.1 percent (23-of-62) from the field ... Paul had five of the Illini's 15 turnovers.
01/28 00:29:47 ET