Illinois Basketball: Andy Katz releases his Power 36, Illini in top 10

CHAMPAIGN, IL - FEBRUARY 07: Kofi Cockburn #21 of the Illinois Fighting Illini is seen during the game against the Maryland Terrapins at State Farm Center on February 7, 2020 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
CHAMPAIGN, IL - FEBRUARY 07: Kofi Cockburn #21 of the Illinois Fighting Illini is seen during the game against the Maryland Terrapins at State Farm Center on February 7, 2020 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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Long-time Fox Sports college basketball insider, Andy Katz, released his Power 36 on Tuesday.

Katz is gearing up for college basketball season already and with a new season on the horizon, new teams have entered the fold. One of those new teams is the 2019-2020 Big Ten cinderella story, Illinois, who checks in at the No. 4 spot on his list.

The Fighting Illini are coming off its best season since 2005, where Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn propelled the Illini to a share of the Big Ten title and a nine-game turnaround (12 wins to 21 wins). With the return of their star center and point guard, the Illini have set themselves up for an unlimited amount of success, starting in November.


Katz, along with other media outlets, is giving Illinois high praise heading into the season. High praise that arguably hasn’t been seen since its national title berth in 2005, where they fell to North Carolina.

Illinois joins some elite company, including Gonzaga, Villanova, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Virginia, to name a few. The Hawkeyes battled the Orange and Blue in the final game of the regular season, which saw a sold-out State Farm Center witness Cockburn block a potential game-tying Luka Garza shot attempt.

Because of the pandemic, the Big Ten tournament and March Madness never moved forward, which makes the conference match-up must-see TV, whenever that may take place.

Was Illinois part of Katz’s Power 36 last season?

Illinois is Katz’s newest addition, as the Fighting Illini has shown resilience under head coach Brad Underwood.

Underwood has built the team in his image, significantly improving his recruiting efforts and winning close games, including thrilling road triumphs against Wisconsin, Michigan, and Penn State.

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The Illini will likely be one of the early favorites to contend for a conference title and national title as the season kicks off November 25.