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Illinois Basketball in Top 3 of Recent Power Rankings



Illinois Basketball in Top 3 of Recent Power Rankings
Jan 24, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Ty Rodgers (20) grabs a rebound during the second half against the Ohio State Buckeyes at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Basketball in Top 3 of Recent Power Rankings

Illinois Basketball will be one of the older teams in the country. As the theme typically goes for College Basketball teams, particularly in the Big Ten, age wins. This past year, Illinois was one of the youngest teams and was very inconsistent. Despite not achieving post-season success, the prior two years were extremely consistent. The team from 3 years ago won the Big Ten Tournament and owned a one seed. The Team from 2 years ago won the Big Ten regular season championship. Both of these teams were veteran heavy and had multiple upperclassmen. Purdue and Michigan State have consistently been at the top of the league due to their ability to “get old and stay old.”

With one of the older teams in the conference, Illinois has gained some respect in preseason rankings. Purdue and Michigan State are also old teams, however probably have a little bit more star power and proven success. Purdue returns Zach Edey and most of their core that earned a one-seed. Michigan State returns a core that made the sweet 16 and adds some very talented freshmen.

The rest of the rankings?

I think Illinois is in an expected spot in Jamie Shaw’s recent preseason power rankings. Purdue and Michigan State have more proven commodities returning and are relying on less unknowns than Illinois. Theoretically, Illinois could be deeper than both of these teams. However, they are relying on some young guys to take Sophomore leaps and some mid-major transfers to immediately show they are ready for the high major level. Point guard is also a major question. Despite Ty Rodgers hoping to man the spot, Illinois does not have any other proven presence capable of running the offense. They likely have to rely on someone playing out of position or a true freshman like Dravyn Gibbs-Lawhorn.

Purdue has Braden Smith, who was one of the best true freshmen in the league, returning as their floor general. Michigan State has Tyson Walker and a slew of hard-nosed veteran guards in their backcourt. To be fully honest, Michigan State seems like the team to beat given what they return and the slew of talented freshmen coming in. In fact, this year’s Michigan State basketball roster reminds me a lot of the 2020-21 Illinois Basketball team.

Some teams that are overlooked.

I think Michigan could actually surprise people. Despite the loss of Hunter Dickinson, I think it may free Michigan Basketball up from some of the drama and allow some young talent to come into their own. Olivier Nkamhoua and Tarris Reed are an interesting duo that actually seems like they could play alongside each other. Maryland is also a team that returns some veteran presences and could very well shock some people going into Kevin Willard’s Second year.

Regardless, some things have to go right for Illinois Basketball to succeed. However, if it all clicks, Brad Underwood may have a dangerously good team on his hands.

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Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is also the lead content creator and lead editor of all articles on Armchair Illini. He has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS Sports and more.