ISU's Jackie Carmichael has been named to the Missouri Valley Conference preseason all-conference team. (Photo by B Corbin/WBC)
By Bryan Bloodworth
Illinois State's men's basketball team was picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll, it was announced Monday. It's the highest ranking for an ISU team since the 2001-02 season.
Also, senior forward Jackie Carmichael was selected to the league's preseason all-conference team in a vote by league coaches, sports information directors and media
The Redbirds were ranked behind Creighton, which received 38 of 40 first-place votes with ISU earning the other two. Creighton received 398 of a possible 400 points in the Valley poll and the Redbirds had 327.
"Certainly, they are a very, very talented team, along with a hand full of other teams in the Valley," ISU coach Dan Muller said of the Bluejays, which has been ranked as high as No. 10 nationally in preseason polls. "They deserve the credit because of what they did last year and what they are returning."
Muller added that his team's ranking is justified.
"It's a credit to what the guys did last year, how they ended last year and what we have returning," Muller continued. "But as everyone knows, and I'm sure any coach will tell you, preseason predictions are just that. They are predictions.
"We certainly have to go out and earn it (the ranking). I do think we have talent. I haven't seen a lot of the other teams in person but I have seen some on tape, so it's hard for me to compare them a lot right now."
The No. 2 ranking marks the first time that ISU has been picked at that position in a Valley preseason poll. Pollsters have accurately predicted the league’s regular-season champion only 12 times out of 28 since 1985-86. However, 25 of those 28 predicted champions have gone on to post-season play with 17 of those 25 playing in the NCAA Tournament.
"We have high expectations this season," said Creighon coach Greg McDermott. "We like that and we enjoy that. I hope it becomes the norm. It is what it is and we can't let anything that happens on the outside, whether it be national rankings or a preseason conference poll, affect our preparation for the season."
Bryan Bloodworth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org