UCSB (129 votes) was predicted to finish fifth in the Big West Preseason Poll.
NOT THEIR FIRST RODEO
In contrast to UC Santa Barbara's young team, Illinois State features four seniors, three juniors, four sophomores and just two freshmen - with only one true-freshman (Kaza Keane). The Redbirds welcome back four out of their five starters from last year's team and return 84.5 percent of their offense (2,062/2,439), 92.4 percent of their rebounding (1,135/1,229), 100 percent of their shot blocking (118/118) and 69.1 percent of their assists (317/459).
E-KEYS EXHIBITION WIN
Even though it does not count, Illinois State built momentum for the 2012-13 season with a 93-64 exhibition win against Quincy Nov. 5. Junior forward Jon Ekey led the Redbirds with 16 points, while Jackie Carmichael tallied a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Ekey, who has scored double-figures in all three of ISU's exhibition wins against Quincy over the past three years, averages 14 points versus Quincy.
IT'S MULLER TIME
The last time the Illinois State men's basketball team participated in the NCAA Tournament, Dan Muller was the leader on the floor. He hopes to repeat that accomplishment, this time from the sideline, as ISU's head coach. Muller was named the 19th men's basketball coach in school history May 8, 2012. Muller's basketball resume includes over a decade of basketball coaching experience, including the last 12 years as an assistant coach at Vanderbilt under former Illinois State head coach Kevin Stallings. As a player, Muller guided the Redbirds to two regular season and Valley Tournament championships and four postseason appearances, including trips to the NCAA Tournament in his final two seasons (1997 and 1998).
'BIRDS FLYING HIGH IN PRESEASON POLL
Illinois State 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. ISU senior forward Jackie Carmichael is also an MVC Preseason All-Conference selection. Creighton is the preseason-favorite, with 38 first-place votes, while ISU earned two first-place votes to rank No. 2.
BIG EXPECTATIONS FOR THE BIG MAN
Redbird forward Jackie Carmichael has received preseason publicity from numerous national publications. Not only is Carmichael a preseason All-Missouri Valley Conference selection, but he has also been named the eighth best rebounder in the country according to the ESPN.com Top 10 Rebounders list, the 30th best big man in the country according to the CBSSports.com Top 50 Big Men list, and the 79th best player in the country according to the CBSSports.com Top 100 Player list. Carmichael was the top rebounder in the Valley last year, with 9.7 boards averaged per game. He also led ISU with 13.9 points averaged per game.
RECORD BOOK, MEET Jackie Carmichael
As Jackie Carmichael begins his senior season, he is in a position to etch his name near the top of several categories in the Redbird record book. Carmichael is on pace to break the program-blocked shots mark. He begins the season with 132 blocks (tied for fourth place with Joe Galvin), and the record is 160. If he blocks as many shots as he did last season (50), he will surpass the old record, held by Greg Dilligard. He is also on pace to finish among the top-10 scorers, top-three rebounders and top-five free throw shooters.
WELCOME TO THE CLUB
Thanks to his 21-point effort at Stanford Mar. 19, 2012, Jackie Carmichael became the 40th member of Illinois State's 1,000-point scoring club. Carmichael now has 1,005 career-points to rank No. 40.
HAVE YOU SEEN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED?
Sports Illustrated is profiling Jackie Carmichael as a Future Game Changer. A video featuring Carmichael is streaming on SI.com, and a story about Carmichael is appearing in the Sports Illustrated College Basketball Preview. Sports Illustrated photographer Bill Frakes was on campus Oct. 29-30 to photograph and film Carmichael at Redbird Arena, the Karin Bone Athletic Study Center, the ISU quad and in front of the Normal Theater. Head coach Dan Muller and athletic trainer John Munn are also featured in the video.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?
ISU guard Tyler Brown also earned some national hype by ranking No. 38 on the CBSSports.com Top 50 Shooters list. Brown averaged 13.7 points per game to rank second on the team in scoring. However, he saved some of his most significant contributions for late in the season, averaging a team-best 16 points per game at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, and 24.5 points per game during the two games of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) where he shot a combined 13-for-14 from three-point range.
ALLEN RECEIVES WAIVER; JONES TO REDSHIRT
Transfer guard Geoffrey Allen will be eligible to play during the 2012-13 men's basketball season based on a waiver granted by the NCAA. Allen will not be forced to miss a season of competition, despite transferring from Eastern Washington. The waiver was granted for two reasons. First, he left Eastern Washington following a coaching change. Second, after playing at Eastern Washington as a freshman during the 2010-11 season, he underwent shoulder surgery and did not play in 2011-12. Meanwhile, the NCAA ruled that forward John Jones has two years of playing eligibility remaining. He will redshirt during 2012-13.
A RETURN TO POSTSEASON
Illinois State, which became an NCAA Division I program prior to the 1970-71 season, enjoyed postseason play for the 18th time last season. The Redbirds have qualified for the NCAA Tournament six times (1983, 1984, 1985, 1990, 1997 and 1998) and the NIT 12 times (1977, 1978, 1980, 1987, 1988, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012).
FOUR OUT OF FIVE
By making the 2012 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) field, the Redbirds have earned postseason berths in four of last five seasons, all NIT bids. The last time ISU made four postseason bids in five years was in 1994-95 (NIT), 1995-96 (NIT), 1996-97 (NCAA) and 1997-98 (NCAA).
FIRST TIME SINCE '78
With Tyler Brown (23), Jackie Carmichael (21) and Nic Moore (25) each scoring more than 20 points during ISU's season-ending NIT loss at Stanford Mar. 19, 2012, it marked the first time three Redbirds have scored 20-plus points in a game since Derrick Mayes (21), Ron Jones (20) and Del Yarbrough (20) accomplished the feat against Southern Illinois, Dec. 6, 1978.