INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Even without Roger Powell, Illinois advanced to the Big Ten tournament championship game for the second straight season.
Dee Brown scored 21 points to lead the 13th-ranked Fighting Illini to their 12th straight win, a 74-60 victory over Michigan in the tournament semifinals.
Illinois (24-5) will play Wisconsin in Sunday's Big Ten championship at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Michigan (18-11) probably needed to win this game for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines instead have to hope that their 3-7 road record will not be held against them.
"We're a basketball team that has played a very competitive schedule," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. "We have 18 wins overall. We finished at .500 in our league. When you look around at what conferences are so-called 'down' - that's just the lingo and the party line. I think we're going to have a great chance of being in the postseason, so we're going to be proud of that no matter what tournament we're selected to play in."
Powell helped Illinois win the conference tournament last season and the outright regular season title this year, but banged his head in the quarterfinal win over Indiana Friday and did not play Saturday due to a severe headache.
"If he feels all right tomorrow, then he will play," said first-year Illinois coach Bruce Weber. "He woke up with a bad headache today after getting hurt Friday, so there was no way we were going to play him. His absence left a hole, but we have a pretty good team here and the guys really rose to the occasion."
Without its third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, Illinois got its transition game going early and raced to a 15-5 lead in the first five minutes as Brown hit a pair of layups and a 3-pointer. They increased it to 28-13 after back-to-back 3-pointers by freshman Rich McBride and a dunk by Luther Head with 8:37 left in the half.
"We came out aggressively and got some easy baskets on penetration," said Brown, who had five assists and no turnovers in 32 minutes. "Then Rich hit a couple of threes off screens after they started to clamp down inside."
A 3-pointer by Daniel Horton pulled Michigan within 47-44 with 11:30 left, but Illinois scored the next eight points - baskets by Jack Ingram and Nick Smith and two free throws apiece by Brown and McBride - to increase the advantage to 55-44 with 9:26 remaining.
Michigan pulled no closer than seven the rest of the way.
James Augustine had 15 points and eight rebounds and Head finished with 12 points for Illinois.
Daniel Horton finished with 16 and Bernard Robinson Jr. added 15 for the Wolverines.