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Where Illinois Basketball Landed in Preseason KenPom Rankings



Where Illinois Basketball Landed in Preseason KenPom Rankings
Oct 10, 2023; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood speaks to the media during the Big Ten basketball media days at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Where Illinois Basketball Landed in Preseason KenPom Rankings

Yes, I am well aware. Preseason rankings do not mean anything. Last year, Purdue was picked to finish fourth in the Big Ten by most. As the season progressed, Purdue showed that they were in a total league of their own. Northwestern was picked 13th in the preseason Big Ten Rankings. The Wildcats finished in the top four and nearly made the Sweet 16. Despite this, preseason rankings are a good way to have an idea of what’s to come and how a program is perceived.

Illinois Basketball ranked 19th in the preseason Kenpom rankings. That is a good sign and it shows that expectations are high for this team. Illinois is the third team in the KenPom top 25. Purdue owns the top spot at number 1, while Michigan State is placed at number 13.

Trying to compete with Sparty and Purdue

Purdue is the clear-cut favorite. Despite losing in the first round to a 16th seed, Matt Painter returns practically everyone from a team that dominated the Big Ten. Michigan State is always tough to count out. Certainly, Tom Izzo is a hall-of-fame coach and returns one of his most experienced rosters in recent memory. Brad Underwood returns an old team, however, some of that age is new to Illinois and the high-major level. As a result, Purdue and Michigan State are in a tier of their own. After those two, Illinois sits with Maryland, Ohio State, and Wisconsin as the four teams looking to cause a stir.

Michigan State probably has the best chance in March. They have elite guard play in Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard. Additionally, they are extremely deep and experienced. That wins in March.

Illinois will need time

I think Illinois will take some bumps to start their season. Brad Underwood teams typically struggle out the gate. However, they should flourish after a difficult non-conference schedule. The Big Ten seems top-heavy this year. Despite this, it is good to see Illinois Basketball in high regard heading into the season.

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