Illinois finally hosts Michigan after two-week postponement
February 21, 2021
No. 20 Illinois finally hosts No. 7 Michigan this weekend after weeks of wondering when the postponed matchup was going to be rescheduled.
Originally, the Illini and the Wolverines were scheduled to face off on Feb. 6 but COVID-19 issues within the Michigan athletic department caused it to be delayed. Nearly two weeks later, 5-2 Illinois welcomes powerhouse Michigan.
Last time out, Illinois beat No. 31 Penn State 196.300-195.275. The bounce-back win brought their road record to 5-1.
The last time Michigan competed was on Feb. 15 against No. 39 Nebraska and won 197.650-195.350 to bring their record to 3-0.
If anything can be said about the Illinois women’s gymnastics team this season, it’s their only worry about what they can do. They don’t stress over what is out of their control, and their focus is on themselves and how they perform, not about others.
They improve every week, and it shows on the mat, as they have established a new season high in points over the last two weeks. Even with a perennial contender like Michigan visiting Huff Hall, they will be ready.
It also helps to have a gymnast in peak form like sophomore Arayah Simons. Against Penn State, she scored a 9.950 on floor, which ties for the second-highest in program history and the most since Lizzy Leduc in 2016.
Something to look for this weekend is who does better in their weaker events. Michigan is arguably the best in the country on vault and bars, while Illinois is the opposite. Meanwhile, Illinois is one of the best in the country on beam and floor, while Michigan is the opposite.
Just based on Michigan’s record, it’s not known how legit they are this year. If the past is any indication, however, this is the biggest test for Illinois.
According to the Illinois record book, Michigan has won the Big Ten Championship 25 times since 1983, including the last six. The next closest competitor is Minnesota and Ohio State with five. Illinois only has one, as they won in 1990.
To further illustrate their dominance, they have only not won it four times since 1992, as Minnesota won in 1998 and 2006, while Nebraska won in 2012 and 2013.
Since head coach Nadalie Walsh was hired in 2017, they have never beaten Michigan.