U-M Rises To No. 2 In Today's Top 25, Narrows The Voting Margin On Gonzaga
Despite its winning ways, the Michigan Wolverines' basketball program had remained at No. 3 in the Associated Press top 25 over the last several weeks. This was due to No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 Baylor remaining undefeated while the Maize and Blue rattled off win after win.
The Bears, however, lost their first game of the year Saturday night at Kansas, allowing U-M to jump Scott Drew's squad and rise to No. 2 in the nation. The Bulldogs remained No. 1, but the Wolverines have narrowed the margin — Gonzaga received 1,571 points in today's voting and Michigan 1,512.
Yet another top five matchup is now on deck for Juwan Howard's crew, with No. 4 Illinois coming to Crisler Center Tuesday night. Massive showdowns like this have been commonplace in the Big Ten this season, with the conference possessing four of the nation's top seven teams (No. 2 Michigan, No. 4 Illinois, No. 5 Iowa and No. 7 Ohio State).
Purdue, meanwhile, reentered the top 25 as well at No. 23, following a 73-52 blowout win at Penn State Friday night. Wisconsin also remained ranked (No. 25), despite an 0-1 week that saw the Badgers lose to Illinois at the Kohl Center Saturday afternoon.
It was Wisconsin's ninth loss of the year (the most of any ranked program), exemplifying the voters' realization of how tough the Big Ten is this season. Another example of that sentiment is the fact that Iowa rose four spots in today's AP top 25, despite a 22-point loss at Michigan Thursday night.
The reason for the Hawkeyes' ascent was due to their impressive 73-57 win at then-No. 4 Ohio State yesterday afternoon.
Gonzaga is now the lone remaining unbeaten team in the nation at 24-0, while Michigan and Baylor are the only two Power Conference schools who possess fewer than four losses.
U-M's 13-1 start to Big Ten play matches its best in school history, with the 1964-65 Wolverines concluding at 13-1 in league action that season. A triumph over Illinois tomorrow night will likely clinch a regular-season Big Ten championship for Michigan (assuming the conference awards it to the program with the best winning percentage).
U-M's last regular-season league title came in 2014 under former head coach John Beilein. Following tomorrow's Illinois contest, Michigan will close the regular-season with back-to-back matchups against Michigan State — at Crisler Center Thursday night and at the Breslin Center Sunday afternoon.
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