The first AP Top 25 of the new year has been released, and the Wolverines remain entrenched at No. 2 and received five first-place votes. Pollsters again ranked Duke as the top team in the land for the third week in a row and fifth week overall this season. The Blue Devils beat Clemson at home on Saturday 87-68. Two months and two days after starting its season, Duke plays its first two non-neutral site away games this week, traveling to Wake Forest and Florida State.
This week marks Michigan’s sixth straight week in the Top 5, and third week at No. 2. It appears Michigan will not have a chance at the top spot unless the Wolverines keep winning and Duke drops a game. For those of you interested, Duke plays No. 4 Virginia at Cameron Indoor one week from Saturday. The Wolverines head out on the road this week, facing Illinois (4-11, 0-4 B1G) in their second conference road game of the year before hosting Northwestern (10-5, 1-3 B1G) Sunday night.
“When you’re playing at Illinois, it’s a whole different animal now they are gonna go no catch, it’s pressure pressure pressure.” John Beilein said when giving a preview of the Illini and coach Brad Underwood’s aggressive scheme after the Indiana game. “You won’t be seeing us run those plays (like against Indiana,) they won’t let us run any plays.”
As for the rest of the Big Ten, the league has four teams ranked in Michigan State at 6th, Ohio State at 16th, and Indiana dropped one spot to 22nd after losing at Michigan. Six teams are receiving votes this week: Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Maryland. No Top 25 Big Ten teams play each other this week.
Now riding a 15-game win streak, Michigan is off to its second-best start in school history and can tie the best start in school history with a win at Illinois on Thursday. Isaiah Livers status is still questionable for that game as he receives treatment for his back spasms, but Brandon Johns (8 points, 4-5 FG, 8 rebounds in 13 minutes vs. Indiana) will likely step in for the sophomore should he miss a third consecutive game. John Beilein may provide an update on Livers status at his next press conference which will likely be Wednesday.