Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your day by day dose of school basketball information from Illini beat author and AP High 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll provide up insights each morning on Brad Underwood’s workforce:
CBS Sports activities’ Matt Norlander yearly ranks every Division I males’s basketball workforce within the nation forward of the season. I can solely think about it is an arduous process. One which solely will get harder as groups proceed to transition as much as the D-I degree like Bellarmine, Dixie State, Tarleton State (coached by former Illini assistant Billy Gillispie) and UC San Diego.
So Norlander needed to rank 1-357 this yr. Illinois followers, although, needed to look forward to the ultimate day to search out out the place the Illini ranked. It was … excessive.
This is a part of what Norlander needed to say about Brad Underwood’s No. 4 ranked workforce:
“Preventing Illini followers, get pleasure from this. Delight in a preseason of hype you’ve got been anticipating for 15 years. Illinois benefitted greater than every other workforce in faculty basketball by way of having two on-the-fence star gamers return. I converse in fact of wing Ayo Dosunmu and heart Kofi Cockburn, who will comprise among the finest 1-2 combos in faculty hoops.”
This is just a few extra ideas on Norlander’s large venture. It is one I learn yearly as a result of faculty basketball is my jam (and Norlander’s a DMB fan, so he’ll at all times have my assist):
— Norlander’s No. 1 is my No. 1. Villanova, with all of its high gamers returning save for potential lottery choose Saddiq Bey might properly be on its technique to successful a 3rd nationwide title in six seasons. The Wildcats aren’t loaded in a “take a look at all these five-stars” sense, however it’s nonetheless a proficient, skilled Jay Wright workforce. These are typically harmful.
— Twelve of 14 Huge Ten groups are ranked within the high 68. The outliers? Nebraska and Northwestern, in fact, the dregs of the very best convention within the nation a yr in the past more likely to repeat that standing in 2020-21. A bit shocked Penn State held regular at No. 63 given the abrupt teaching change, however Norlander appears to be as excessive on Myreon Jones as I’m. (He is good).
— Final place went to Bethune-Cookman. The Wildcats, in fact, aren’t taking part in this season. Chicago State will possible be the worst of the groups that do play — a place the Cougars held in 2019-20.
— Shoutout to the alma mater for checking in at No. 201. That is fairly stable for Japanese Illinois. Jay Spoonhour has probably the most skilled groups he is ever had in his time in Charleston, however the OVC nonetheless belongs to Belmont/Austin Peay/Murray State.
— Bellarmine (positioned in Louisville, Ky., in case you had been questioning) was the very best ranked of the D-I newcomers at No. 296. The Knights received loads on the D-II degree the final decade-plus, notching no less than 23 wins in every of the final 11 seasons and successful the 2011 NCAA D-II title and making three different remaining fours in that span.