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J. Thomas McNamara

Illinois will open the 2021-22 season at No. 11 in the Associated Press Top 25.
This is the second straight season the Illini are ranked in the preseason poll, after starting at No. 8 in 2020-21. The Illini were ranked in the Top 25 every week last season and ended the year at No. 2, the second-highest final AP ranking in school history.

This marks the first time the Illini appear in the AP preseason rankings in back-to-back seasons since the introductory polls of 2009-10 (No. 23) and 2010-11 (No. 13).

It is Illinois’ 10th-highest preseason ranking ever, and the 18th time in program history the Illini are ranked in the preseason poll.

Illinois has now spent 21 consecutive weeks ranked in the AP Top 25 overall, a streak that dates back to the March 2, 2020, poll.

Five Big Ten teams appear in the initial AP Top 25 rankings, with three additional B1G teams receiving votes. It is shaping up to be another stellar year for the Big Ten, which was rated the toughest conference in the country each of the last two seasons.

Illinois Basketball mini-plan and exhibition tickets are on sale now at Single-game tickets begin with an Oct. 26 pre-sale to I FUND members before the general public on-sale date of Oct. 27.

Head Coach Brad Underwood‘s fifth Illini squad returns three starters and six of its top nine players from last year’s rotation. Led by national player of the year candidate Kofi Cockburn, 2021 Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year Andre Curbelo, and fifth-year starters Trent FrazierDa’Monte Williams and Jacob Grandison, Illinois welcomes back 63% of its minutes, 60% of its points, and 69% of its rebounds while adding standout transfers and a top-25 ranked recruiting class to the mix.

The winningest Big Ten program over the last two years, Illinois is coming off a 24-7 campaign, including a 16-4 mark in conference play followed by the Big Ten Tournament championship and No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Illinois set school records with 19 victories against Big Ten competitors and six wins over top-10 teams.

Illinois All-Time in the AP Preseason Poll
1962-63, No. 8
1984-85, No. 2
1985-86, No. 7
1986-87, No. 14
1988-89, No. 9
1989-90, No. 8
1993-94, No. 17
1994-95, No. 25
1999-2000, No. 16
2000-01, No. 8
2001-02, No. 3
2003-04, No. 13
2004-05, No. 5
2005-06, No. 17
2009-10, No. 23
2010-11, No. 13
2020-21, No. 8
2021-22, No. 11

    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.  

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