Redbirds Picked Second in Valley Preseason Poll
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Oct. 29, 2012
ST. LOUIS - The Illinois State men's basketball team has earned its highest Missouri Valley Conference preseason ranking since the 2001-02 season, as the Redbirds are picked to finish second in the league according to the 2012 Valley Preseason Poll released Monday. ISU senior forward Jackie Carmichael is also an MVC Preseason All-Conference selection.
Creighton is the preseason-favorite to win the league, with 38 first-place votes, while the Redbirds earned two first-place votes to rank No. 2. Creighton has been slated as high as No. 10 nationally in preseason polls. The Bluejays received 398 of a possible 400 points (38 of 40 first-place votes) in the conference poll of league coaches, sports information directors and media.
Illinois State received the remaining two first-place tallies and finished second, receiving 327 total points to edge Northern Iowa (316). Defending regular-season champ Wichita State placed fourth in the preseason picks with 298 total points, while Evansville - one of five teams that tied for third place in the 2011-12 conference race - rounds out the upper division with 240 points and a fifth-place slot in the poll.
Drake is picked sixth with 184 points, and the Bulldogs are followed by Indiana State (165), Missouri State (122), Bradley (84) and Southern Illinois (66).
Pollsters have accurately predicted the league's regular-season champ only 12 times out of 28 since 1985-86. However, 25 of those 28 predicted champs have gone on to post-season play, with 17 of those 25 playing in the NCAA Tournament.
This is the first time that Illinois State has ever been picked to finish second in a Valley preseason poll; however, the Redbirds were favored to win the league four times (1993-94, 1996-97, 1997-98 and 2001-02), with ISU winning the regular-season title in 1996-97 and 1997-98 to match their preseason ranking. Last year, Illinois State was chosen eighth in the 10-team preseason poll, but the Redbirds exceeded expectations and ultimately finished third.
Carmichael emerged as a top Missouri Valley Conference player last season, earning a spot on the 2012 Valley All-Tournament Team, after averaging 15 points and 11.7 rebounds per game during ISU's MVC tournament run. The Manhattan, Kan., native was also a second team All-Valley selection in 2012, and he was selected to the MVC's All-Defensive Team and Most-Improved Team. This is the first conference preseason recognition of Carmichael's career.
Creighton's Doug McDermott, heads the list of nine players who received pre-season recognition. McDermott, the reigning Larry Bird Player of the Year and a first-team All-American, was voted preseason Player of the Year by the voters. He is joined on the pre-season first-team unit by Carmichael, Colt Ryan of Evansville; Jake Odum of Indiana State; and Ben Simons of Drake. Honorable-mention selections include Gregory Echenique of Creighton; Anthony James of UNI; Carl Hall of Wichita State; and Seth Tuttle of UNI.
McDermott - a consensus pre-season All-American this year, and the lone returning first-team All-American from 2011-12 - was rated the No. 2 "big man" by CBSSports.com; while Carmichael ranked No. 30 on the same list. Carmichael also joined McDermott as one of the "top-100 players" in the country according to CBSSports.com. He ranked No. 79, while McDermott was No. 2. Meanwhile, Odum is rated the nation's No. 49 point guard by CBSSports.com.
The public will have its first chance to see the 2012-13 Redbirds in action during ISU's only exhibition game of the season, next Monday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena against Quincy. The regular season will tip off a week later on Monday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. at home versus UC Santa Barbara. Single-game, mini-pack and season tickets are available by calling (309) 438-8000.
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