On Thursday, USA Today announced their Preseason Coaches Poll and, to much surprise, the Illinois Fighting Illini are unranked in the poll. During John Groce’s first season as head coach, the Illini went 23-13 and made it to the Third Round of the NCAA National Tournament.
Although they are unranked, the Illini did receive two votes in the poll.
Five other Big Ten schools were named to the preseason poll: the Michigan State Spartans (No. 2), Michigan Wolverines (No. 9), Ohio State Buckeyes (No. 10), Wisconsin Badgers (No. 21), and Indiana Hoosiers (No. 24).
The other Big Ten team to be outside the Top 25 and receive votes is the Iowa Hawkeyes (86).
When it comes to the Illini’s nonconference schedule, they only have one team scheduled from the Preseason Top 25. The Oregon Ducks are ranked at No. 18 in the poll and will host the Illini on December 14th.
Head coach John Groce will be looking to build off of his success from last season in year two with the Fighting Illini. The biggest loss from last year will be guard Brandon Paul, but the Illini have made some noticeable additions. Illinois gained five new freshman in Jaylon Tate, Malcolm Hill, Maverick Morgan, Kendrick Nunn, and Austin Colbert. They also added senior forward Jon Ekey and sophomore forward Darius Paul (younger brother to former Illini Brandon Paul).
The top five teams to make the preseason poll are the Kentucky Wildcats, Michigan State Spartans, Louisville Cardinals (defending champs), Duke Blue Devils, and Arizona Wildcats.
Click here to see the full Preseason Top 25.
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