There is still a lot of time until the 2022-23 campaign begins, but it is always fun to look at what could be for the Illinois basketball program.
In the last couple of months, the Illini were able to add transfers Terrence Shannon Jr. and Matthew Mayer to the roster. These two experienced players will be inserted into the starting lineup to help Illinois get over the hump and get back to the promised land.
With those two joining the team, Illinois should be looked at as one of the best teams in the country. But that isn’t necessarily the case with CBS Sports analyst Jon Rothstein. He doesn’t just look at Illinois as a team outside the top 10, in his eyes Illinois isn’t even a top 25 program.
In the latest Rothstein 45, where Jon ranks the top 45 teams in the country heading into the 2022-23 season, Illinois sits at No. 35. The roster is up-to-date as well, so there aren’t any mistakes on who will be on the team.
I don’t get how Jon Rothstein doesn’t have Illinois basketball in the top 25.
Illinois should be a top 25 program to start the season. Without a doubt, they have the talent to make a run in the 2023 NCAA tournament. I am shocked that Rothstein doesn’t look at Illinois as more of a contender.
The only angle I see him taking with the Illini is the fact we did lose so much production from last season. I believe we are only returning four players from the team we saw in March, and I have a feeling Jacob Grandison is going to transfer despite him backing out of the NBA Draft. That is just a feeling, though.
I would make an argument Rothstein’s rankings were correct if Shannon and Mayer didn’t transfer into the program. If that was the case, then Illinois would have a young inexperienced roster that would struggle at times. But that isn’t the case. We have a ton of talent and a ton of experience.
On top of the starting lineup looking pretty solid, Illinois’ bench is deep as well. The vast majority of the bench is made up of four-star players who are extremely talented and versatile. I think our bench is one of our strong points heading into the season.
Illinois not being in the top 10 is understandable. Illinois not being in the top 25 is confusing. Illinois being at No. 35 is just not right. This team is better than that, and I can’t wait for the upcoming season to start.