Illinois basketball has been struggling the past week or so, but they still managed to remain in the top 25 this week.
Last Sunday, the Illini took on an average Maryland team, that was missing their best player, and lost to the Terrapins. This defeat dropped Illinois two spots down to No. 14 in the weekly AP Top 25.
A postponed game on Wednesday against Nebraska due to COVID-19 derailed Illinois’ chances of getting a nice rebound victory over a bad Cornhuskers program. The next game up for the Orange and Blue was against a tough No. 21 ranked Ohio State program.
Illinois went into that game and dug themselves into a hole early on. Going down by 15 points at halftime, the Illini tried to fight their way back into the game only to fall just short, 87-81. This loss sent Brad Underwood’s squad tumbling in the latest AP Top 25.
On Monday, the Associated Press released their updated rankings. Illinois went from No. 14 in the nation down to No. 22. This is the lowest-ranked Illinois has been this season and, honestly, they are right where they belong.
What does mean for Illinois basketball?
I think this is what we call a reality check. Illinois was the darling of the college basketball world to start the season, but they have hit a rough patch and have nothing to blame it on but themselves.
Dropping down to almost out of the top 25 will hopefully make this team realize that not only is a national title a distant thought, but we could end up playing our way onto the bubble. This team, with all of the talent in the world, might end up being a bubble team.
The road ahead doesn’t get much easier either. Penn State is next, which should be a win. Illinois then takes on Michigan State on the road, No. 4 Iowa at home, Indiana on the Road, No. 10 Wisconsin at home and No. 7 Michigan on the road.
Something has to change and change quickly if Illinois wants to remain in the AP Top 25 poll. The way they have been playing as of late, it wouldn’t surprise me to see this team barely squeak into the postseason.