Illini picked sixth in pre-season basketball poll

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Illinois was picked sixth in a poll of 24 Big Ten writers, two from each school, released Wednesdayl. The speak-no-evil Big Ten will only announce the league’s top three teams when athletes and coaches gather in Chicago Thursday for Big Ten basketball media day.Ohio State, a popular Final Four pick, received all 24 first-place votes.Beyond the Buckeyes, Michigan, which finished strong last season, joins Wisconsin, Michigan State and Purdue, which have a set a high standard in recent years, in what’s expected to be the upper tier.Whether Illinois can crack that group, and make itself into an NCAA tournament team, will depend on developing a go-to core. With senior mainstays Demetri McCamey, Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis gone, Bruce Weber is hoping for big production from junior guards D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul, and sophomore big man Meyers Leonard.Team, total points (range of predictions) 1. Ohio State, 288 (1) 2. Wisconsin, 248 (2-5) 3. Michigan, 233 (2-6) 4. Michigan State, 219 (2-6) 5. Purdue, 194 (2-9) 6. Illinois, 150 (4-9) 7. Minnesota, 142 (3-10) 8. Northwestern, 115 (6-11) 9. Indiana, 111 (5-12)10. Iowa, 86 (6-12)11. Nebraska, 60 (8-11)12. Penn State, 26 (11-12)

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