Michigan Vs. Illinois: Wolverines Try To Bounce Back, Dash Illini's Tourney Hopes

Feb. 25, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Purdue Boilermakers guard Lewis Jackson (23) drives to the basket on Michigan Wolverines guard Trey Burke (3) and Michigan Wolverines guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) in the second half at Crisler Center. Purdue won 75-61. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Coming off its first home loss of the season, Michigan hits the road to take on a desperate Illinois team.

The Michigan Wolverines will carry a No. 13 ranking and an outside shot at a Big Ten title into Illinois on Thursday.

Michigan's conference titles hopes depend on Ohio State beating Michigan State this weekend. And, of course, on the Wolverines taking care of business in their final two games, starting Thursday with the Fighting Illini.

Even after Saturday's 75-61 loss to Purdue, the Wolverines are 21-8 and 11-5 in the Big Ten, and they represent a golden opportunity for Illinois to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Despite being 6-10 in the Big Ten 17-12 overall, StatSheet.com has the Illini at No. 63 in the RPI as of Thursday morning. Doesn't get much more bubble than that.

For all Illinois' offensive woes this season -- the Illini have scored 60 or fewer in eight games -- they do have an offensive playmaker in Brandon Paul. The 6-4 junior averages 14.8 points per game and shoots 34.2 percent from downtown.

Michigan beat Illinois 70-61 earlier this season in Ann Arbor.

Thursday's game starts at 7 ET and will air on ESPN.

For more on the Michigan Wolverines, check out Maize n Brew.

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