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Illinois Ranked No. 3 in Sporting News Preseason Top 25

Illinois Men's Basketball lands at No. 3 in the Sporting News preseason top 25 poll. This is the highest the Illini have been ranked in any poll this preseason.
Illinois Basketball top 25

Photo: Sporting News/Twitter

Sporting News has ranked Illinois Basketball No. 3 in its preseason top 25 rankings. It is the highest the Illini have been ranked in the preseason top 25 rankings this fall.

Last week, The Associated Press ranked the Illini No. 11. Ken Pom also has Illinois ranked No. 5 in its top 25 rankings.

Illinois is ranked behind Gonzaga and UCLA, with Purdue and Michigan as the other two teams from the Big Ten in the top 10. Behind Andre Curbelo and Kofi Cockburn, Illinois is getting more love than some might have thought.

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Why they’re here: They’ve got the best center in college basketball and maybe the best point guard – isn’t that a great place for the Illini to start? Well, progress from there will have to include Cockburn adding more versatility to his game and, more important, Curbelo showing he can make a jumpshot. And beyond that, there’s whether Hutcherson is the approximation of Duncan Robinson – from Division III star to Division I standout – as his practice performances suggest, and what role Plummer will fill on a team that has three veteran guards. And who provides the length to make the perimeter defense work at last season’s elite level?

Illinois rolled in its first exhibition game on Saturday, defeating University of St. Francis (NAIA) 101-34. They return to the State Farm Center Friday to host Indiana University of Pennsylvania in another exhibition contest.