Big Ten Power Rankings: Illinois #3

3. Illinois. The biggest question in college basketball the past week -- well, besides who gets to keep the kids in the Big East divorce, I guess -- is this: Is Illinois really real? Like, Kendrick Lamar-epiphanic, I'm "really really really real" real? I think so! They are probably not going to make 3s at this clip forever; the frequency and accuracy of Illinois' 3-point shooting is the most easily identifiable key to its success thus far, and that kind of reliance can wax and wane. But Brandon Paul, once an inefficient chucker, has totally bought in to John Groce. When he said so at Big Ten media day, even his enthusiastic tone couldn't sell me. I'd seen enough. But here he is, playing efficient basketball and carving defenses up on pick-and-roll sets and D.J. Richardson is playing well, and Tyler Griffey is shooting 43.6 percent from 3, and the whole thing really is clicking.

I don't think Illinois can sustain this all season. I don't think it's better than Ohio State now, and I think Ohio State will clearly be the better team by the end of the year. But I'm sorry, when you start 11-0, and you beat Gonzaga on the road, you're going to get serious power rankings love. Deservedly so.

espn.com





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