CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Possible No. 1 ranking? Yeah, that's nice, Michigan's Trey Burke said Sunday outside the locker room at Illinois' Assembly Hall.
But after the win that should give the No. 2 Wolverines their first top ranking since the 1992-93 season, the sophomore guard wanted to talk defense and what a team does when one of its big, defensive rocks goes down.
If you're Michigan (19-1, 6-1 Big Ten), you plug in a couple of other big guys. And you win - in this case 74-60 over the Illini, most of it without 6-foot-8, 250-pound Jordan Morgan. The starting forward limped to the locker room less than two minutes into the game with a sprained right ankle and didn't come back.
"Coach (John Beilein) calls him the minister of defense," Burke said, crediting the Mitch McGary, John Horford and Max Bielfeldt, the three big men who picked up the slack.
"I say this every game," Burke added, "but it just starts with defense. I think that started in the first half."
And that No. 1 ranking, which will likely be Michigan's after Duke's lopsided loss to Miami earlier in the week opened the door when the AP poll comes out Monday, doesn't mean much yet, Beilein was quick to remind.
"You compete for a Big Ten championship, then you go on you compete for a national championship," he said. "That's the number one you want down the line."
Illinois (15-6, 2-5) and first-year coach John Groce, whose team has been doomed by cold shooting since mid-December and shot 37.1 percent Sunday, could do little but marvel at the Wolverines.
"I give Michigan a lot of credit," Groce said. "You make one mistake and they exploit it like that."
Burke scored 19 to lead Michigan. Nick Stauskas scored 14 points and Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 12 each.
Brandon Paul led Illinois with 15 points but had five of the Illini's 15 costly turnovers.
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