We don’t know what this team will do against Purdue today after the 20 point win over Illinois, but those part of the Michigan basketball program who were set to travel with the team may never have a 24 hours like they've had since early Wednesday.
After Wednesday's events with the plane crash leaving the team still in Ann Arbor, they were able to quicky make alternative arrangements to head out early yesterday morning. Coach Beilein mentioned in a press conference after yesterday's game it was a Delta plane used by the Detroit Pistons and other NBA teams that was used for the trip. Wednesday night the team and Coach Beilein had a choice, to either forfeit the game or board the plane early yesterday. Coach Beilein said either way he was behind them on this decision, but it was decided they would make the trip.
They met at 6am to leave for Detroit DTW Airport and arrived in Washington D.C. just before 9am.
They headed straight to the Verizon Center at around 9:15am to prepare for the noon tipoff. Another last minute issue was the team had to leave their bags and gear on the plane as still part of the crash investigation, so this caused them to pull out their practice jerseys for the game that got underway at 12:20pm.
Michigan’s Athletic Director, Warde Manuel, spoke with Mike Hall about the situation and what the team will wear for the matchup with Illinois.
The team started hot and got right into a rhythm with ending the first half up 40-29. The momentum continued in the second half with Illinois hanging around with less than five minutes left. Back-to-back three pointers by Walton Jr. helped seal the deal for the Wolverines to win 75-55. He finished with 19 points, five assists, three rebounds and one steal. Walton told BTN after the game, “We bonded together and talked about how important life really is. To be honest, life was almost taken from all of us. It was one of the most scary moments of my life."
With this win over Illinois, Coach Beilein also becomes the winningest coach in program history with 210 total wins.
This team has been one of the hottest in the Big Ten Conference since the beginning of February. They have won seven out of the last nine games, with the last loss at Northwestern at the buzzer and a 78-73 loss at Minnesota in overtime.
While the adrenaline and impressive performance against Illinois, who wants to play this team right now? Purdue came to Ann Arbor on February 25 and lost 82-70, so this team knows what the Wolverines are capable of and it should be an exciting showdown with the Boilermakers.