Illini Will Start 2022-23 Season Ranked No. 23 in Associated Press Poll

Illinois is ranked in the preseason Associated Press men’s basketball poll for the third straight season.

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Staff Writer

October 17, 2022

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois men’s basketball will start a season with a number next to their name for the third straight time.

The Illini, which are coming off a 2022 Big Ten regular season championship, were ranked No. 23 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll. It is the first time Illinois will be ranked in the AP preseason poll for three straight seasons since 2004-06. In the 2021 preseason poll, Illinois began the year ranked No. 8 after Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn elected to return to Champaign for another season of college basketball. In last season’s preseason poll, Illinois was riding the momentum of being a No. 1 seed in the 2022 NCAA Tournament and the return of Cockburn so they were placed at No. 11. The 2022-23 Illini squad are ranked after being forced to replace all five starters from last year’s squad but bring in two of the nation’s best transfer portal pickups in Terrance Shannon Jr. from Texas Tech and Matthew Mayer from Baylor and boast one of the nation’s best recruiting classes of four freshmen.

The release of the men’s basketball preseason poll means Illinois is ranked in football and men’s basketball for the first time since Jan. 4, 2002 when the Illini football were ranked in the final poll following the Sugar Bowl loss and the basketball team was No. 7 after a 11-2 start.

With four starters back from the team that lost to Kansas in New Orleans, North Carolina was easily the runaway pick as the preseason No. 1 in the poll. The Tar Heels earned 47 of 62 first-place votes from a national media panel to easily outdistance Gonzaga, the top preseason team the past two years. The Bulldogs received 12 first-place votes while No. 3 Houston had one and fourth-ranked Kentucky the other two.

The Big Ten Conference had three teams ranked with Indiana, returning Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Trayce Jackson-Davis, at No. 13 - representing the Hoosiers first preseason ranking since 2016 and its highest ranking for the program since Dec. 12, 2017. Michigan, which returns preseason All-Big Ten center Hunter Dickinson, slides in at No. 22. Purdue was just on the outside looking in for a spot in the poll and will start the season needing to jump just three teams to be ranked.

The Big 12 and Southeastern Conference led the way with five ranked teams. The Big Ten, Pac 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference had three apiece and the Big East had two.

Illinois has only six games on its schedule against teams ranked in the preseason Top 25 poll (Nov. 18 vs. No. 8 UCLA in Las Vegas; Nov. 20 vs. Virginia or Baylor in Las Vegas; Dec. 6 vs. Texas in New York; Jan. 19 vs. Indiana; Feb. 18 at Indiana and March 2 vs. Michigan) and only three after New Year’s Day.

Illinois will open its 2022-23 campaign on Nov. 7 with a 8 p.m. tip against Eastern Illinois at State Farm Center. Illinois officials announced Monday morning that the program will unveil its Big Ten Conference championship banner at the Nov. 11 game against the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

 

Preseason AP Top 25 poll

  1. North Carolina
  2. Gonzaga
  3. Houston
  4. Kentucky

T5. Kansas

T5. Baylor

  1. Duke
  2. UCLA
  3. Creighton
  4. Arkansas
  5. Tennessee
  6. Texas
  7. Indiana
  8. TCU
  9. Auburn
  10. Villanova
  11. Arizona
  12. Virginia
  13. San Diego State
  14. Alabama
  15. Oregon
  16. Michigan
  17. Illinois
  18. Dayton
  19. Texas Tech

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