CBS Sportsline’s Kyle Boone has picked Illinois to win the 2020-21 Big Ten Conference basketball championship and Brad Underwood as its league Coach-of-the-Year.”
About Underwood, Boone wrote, “No awards are won or lost in the offseason, but let’s give Brad Underwood his due: He lured both Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn back to Champaign to run it back in 2020. Not an easy ask considering the Illini didn’t even win the league last season. (Though, to be fair, they were mighty close.) With Dosunmu and Cockburn back, Underwood has on his hands the best and most talented Illinois team in well over a decade. We’re expecting the win-loss column to reflect that. As he enters season No. 4 with the program, he’s got a diverse roster with savvy veterans and sharp youngsters who could easily make this season one of the program’s best.“
Here’s his reasoning for picking Illinois ahead of the Luke Garza-led Iowa Hawkeyes for the championship, “There’s a lot to like about the Illini. The return of Dosunmu, Kockburn and Trent Frazier. The addition of Chicago native and top-40 national recruit Adam Miller. By and large, the bones of a team that won 21 games and finished with five wins in its last six games returns in 2020, establishing them as our preseason pick to win the league. Illinois might not quite have the star power to match Iowa and Luka Garza, but its roster is deep, experienced and talented.”
At least one of Illinois’ major sports gets respect from the national media as the football Illini were 23.5 point underdogs for last Friday night’s Big Ten and season opener at Wisconsin.
I will have more on this story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.