Michigan basketball postpones Illinois game, expects to return at Wisconsin

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
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The No. 4 Wolverines will have to wait a little bit longer before returning to action.

The Michigan basketball program announced on Saturday that Thursday’s scheduled home game against Illinois has officially been postponed.

Michigan coach Juwan Howard, right, and his team will return to the court later than expected.

According to the release, the decision was made “as part of the Wolverines’ return-to-play planning” following the program’s two-week pause and Michigan is “expected” to resume its conference schedule on Feb. 14 at Wisconsin.

The Wolverines, who haven’t had any positive coronavirus tests during the season, last played on Jan. 22. That means there will be at least a 22-day layoff between games.

The Michigan athletic department shut down all sports activity for 14 days — including games, practices and any use of team facilities — on Jan. 23 after several cases of the COVID-19 B.1.1.7 variant were discovered. The shutdown was a recommendation from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and is scheduled to end on Sunday.

The team will be able to practice, at the earliest, on Monday. The school noted many student-athletes began “resuming injury-prevention activities and sports-specific training” on Thursday.

The stoppage caused Michigan to postpone four games: at Penn State, Indiana, at Northwestern and Michigan State. The Illinois contest — the lone regular-season meeting between the teams — marks the fifth straight postponement.

Between the expected Feb. 14 return and March 7 finale, the Wolverines have six games scheduled over three weeks. According to the release, “Michigan and its postponed schools will begin working with the Big Ten to identify options for rescheduling opportunities.”

Michigan is in first place in the Big Ten at 8-1, ahead of Illinois (9-3), Ohio State (9-4), Iowa (7-4) and Wisconsin (8-5).

jhawkins@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @jamesbhawkins

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