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J. Thomas McNamara

— Illinois checked in at No. 5 overall with the No. 2 defense and No. 11 offense in terms of adjusted efficiency. Only Michigan was ranked higher defensively (or overall in the Big Ten).

— The Big Ten was ranked as follows individually:

2. Michigan

5. Illinois

6. Purdue

8. Ohio State

18. Maryland

22. Michigan State

23. Iowa

31. Indiana

44. Wisconsin

48. Northwestern

67. Rutgers

70. Penn State

81. Nebraska

120. Minnesota

— Illinois’ top nonconference game right now is Notre Dame in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, with the Fighting Irish ranked No. 27. That could change, though, should the Illini face Arkansas in the Hall of Fame Classic. The Razorbacks start the season ranked at No. 15 in KenPom.

— Illinois has just one game scheduled against a team currently outside the top 300 in UT Rio Grande Valley at No. 304, although No. 295 Jackson State is close in the opener.

— Illinois is projected as the favorite to win in all but three games this season. Those three are road games at Maryland, Purdue and Michigan.

— That doesn’t mean KenPom projects Illinois to lose just three times. The actual projected record is 22-8 overall and 13-7 in the Big Ten. The latter projection has the Illini sharing second place in the conference with Purdue and Ohio State behind … Michigan.

Here’s the explainer for why the game-by-game and full season projections don’t match: “Projected record is based on cumulative probabilities of winning each game and may not equal the sum of individual game predictions.”

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

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