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Defense porn

Senior Day, March 11, 1989.

Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Illinois 89, Michigan 73.

Whatever you think about Nik Stauskas, or Tracy Abrams, keep in mind that last week’s blowout at the State Farm Center has a precedent. The Flyin’ Illini demolished Michigan’s national champions, in March of 1989.

In a few hours, we’ll know whether the Illini can avenge the loss that came three weeks later, in Seattle. Michigan won’t ever shoot as well as they did in Champaign. 70% from three point range is a once-in-a-program feat.

But can the Illini slow the Wolverines enough to overcome their own offensive shortcomings? Here are some deceptive stats, to help draw the picture.

Illinois ranks 2nd in Big Ten scoring defense. Michigan is third in scoring offense.

Illinois is 11th of 12 in three-point percentage defense. Michigan is first in three-point percentage.

Illinois is 8th in field-goal percentage defense. Michigan is first in FG percentage.

Michigan is 6th in scoring defense. Illinois is 11th in scoring offense.

It’s the shooting percentages that mislead here. And while Michigan proved that a high percentage can beat Illinois soundly, Illinois’ opponents should be more concerned about getting a shot off at all.

On Thursday, Nnanna Egwu’s deflections were the key to a 9-0 run that launched Illinois, emotionally. Tracy Abrams and Rayvonte Rice played their Thieves n’ Villienz roles as violently and aggressively as you could wish. Malcolm Hill gave up his body. Jon Ekey earned a verbal warning from Lamont Simpson “Ekey — no more.”

Yes, the only way Illinois can beat Michigan is by scoring some points of its own. But if they so win, it will be defense doing the heavy lifting.

John Groce said defense isn’t sexy, but it’s just not true. You never know what gets some people going. Over here in Indiana, where zero college teams will advance to the NCAA Tournament this year, good defense can give most Bobby Knight disciples a raging hard-on.

For you defense pervs, here’s some defense porn.

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