Illinois Preview Capsule
Last season: 14-18, lost to Iowa in first round of Big Ten tournament.
Nickname: Fighting Illini.
Coach: Brad Underwood (second year).
Conference: Big Ten.
Who’s gone: For the second offseason in a row, Illinois saw a number of offseason departures. The Illini not only lost three starters, and the team’s best player, but also some valuable depth players. Gone are top player Leron Black, along with starters Mark Alstork and Michael Finke, and backup players Greg Eboigbodin, Clayton Jones, Cameron Liss, Te’Jon Lucas and Matic Vesel.
Who’s back: Guards Trent Frazier (2.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists per game) and Da’Monte Williams (3.5 ppg), who is returning from a torn ACL suffered in the fourth game of last season, and forward Kipper Nichols (10 ppg, 4.2 rebounds).
Who’s new: Six new recruits and three transfers join the Illini this fall. They are four-star recruits Ayo Dosunmu and Tevian Jones, along with Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Alan Griffin, Anthony Higgs and Samba Kane. Griffin, Kane, Bezhanishvili and Higgs are rated as three-stars. Dosunmu is a combo guard, Griffin a shooting guard, Higgs and Jones are small forwards, Bezhanishvili is a power forward, and Kane will play center behind projected starter Adonis De La Rosa.
The Skinny: Illinois has missed the NCAA Tournament the past five years and posted a dismal 41-67 record in conference play over that span. It will likely be another tough year for Underwood to find his footing in the Big Ten.
Expectations: Las Vegas oddsmakers have Illinois as a long shot to win the NCAA Tournament at 200-1.