The Fighting Illini are under a new head coach this season in John Groce, after firing Bruce Weber last March. Illinois returns 11 players from a year ago, only losing Meyers Leonard to the NBA and Sam Maniscalco to graduation. In return, they add freshman Mike LaTulip and transfer Sam McLaurin.
While the future of Fighting Illini hoops looks more optimistic than the outlook on the upcoming season, there is still plenty of talent on this team picked to finish in the bottom third of the Big Ten. To overachieve, each of these 13 players will need to elevate their games.
Illinois did not play a deep bench last year under Weber, something I would look to see change with Groce. If this team can have nine or 10 players receiving consistent playing time and playing at a high-caliber level then Illinois could surpass even my own expectations for them.