The Fighting Illini were hoping to deliver a resume-building win over Michigan on Thursday night, but that wasn't in the cards for them, and it's starting to look like nothing short of a Big Ten tournament championship will get them into the 2012 NCAA tournament.
After trailing by eight points to the Wolverines at halftime, the Illini rallied early in the second half to pull within one point. But they were never able to wrest control of the game from the Wolverines, who went on to win, 71-62.
It's senior night in Illinois, and it's also a crucial night for the Illini's NCAA tournament hopes, slight though they may be at this point. But Michigan played a solid first half and took a 35-27 lead into halftime, so Illinois is going to need a clutch second-half rally to pick up a resume-building win on Thursday night.
Brandon Paul leads the Illini with 10 points on 4-9 shooting. Illinois shot just 36.7% as a team. Michigan, on the other hand, hit 52% of its shots in the half, including a 5-9 effort from beyond the arc.