Team preview: Illinois

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

In fashion circles, the name Bruce Weber conjures thoughts of groundbreaking photography, Calvin Klein ads and high-end models. In Big Ten country, coach Bruce Weber doesn't have much fashion sense (have you seen that orange-clad blazer he wears?), but he has turned Illinois basketball into a trendy pick.

The Illini hang with an elite crowd now, as they've joined Duke as the only two programs with 25 or more wins in each of the last six seasons. During Weber's three seasons in Champaign, they won the Big Ten regular-season title twice and finish tied for second last season.

There is no reason the Illini can't be in contention this year either, despite losing the winningest players in program history.

Guard Dee Brown led the team in scoring, assists and steals last season. Forward James Augustine led the team in rebounds, blocks and was second in scoring. Brown and Augustine were the last remaining starters from the 2005 Final Four squad and were both second-round picks in June's NBA draft.

"Dee really for three years -- especially outwardly and just energy-wise -- really carried us," Weber said. "James did it with workmanship. He was the guy that comes to work every day and does his job. That's going to be tough to fill."