Illinois Basketball: Illini knocking on the door of the AP Top 25

Dec 18, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood directs his players during the second half against the Saint Francis Red Flash at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood directs his players during the second half against the Saint Francis Red Flash at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Another week is in the books, and the Illinois basketball team still finds themselves on the outside of the AP Top 25.

The Illini have been in a similar position for the past five weeks now, as the program has not been ranked since the week of November 22. A 1-0 record during the week of Christmas did not boost the Orange and Blue into the AP Top 25, though.

Illinois managed to not only break the three-game winning streak Missouri was on in the annual Braggin’ Rights matchup, but the Illini destroyed the Tigers, 88-63. This wasn’t much of a game, and it ended up being an impressive win for Illinois.

With that big win over a power-five program, I thought the AP Top 25 might sneak the Illini into the mix. But that didn’t end up being the case. With 72 votes – the most out of any team not in the top 25 – Illinois is the first team out and, essentially, the No. 26 ranked team in the nation.

Illinois basketball will crack the AP Top 25 in the coming weeks.

I know that it kind of stinks that Illinois isn’t in the top 25 once again. For the fifth week in a row, we don’t have a number next to our name.

But don’t worry, Illini fans, that will change in the coming weeks. We just have to continue playing the level of basketball that Missouri and St. Francis (PA) ran into the past couple of weeks. If we can play that well in conference play, then there is no doubt this program sees the top 25 once again.

I think there is a legit shot Illinois could finish the season as a top 10 program. In that case, we might get back to the NCAA tournament as a top three seed as well.


The next five games for the Illini consist of zero ranked opponents. Minnesota is the best team in that group, but I think Illinois can win all five games. Following that stretch, things get a little tougher.

Illinois is going to have plenty of chances to move up drastically in the national rankings. In a stretch of 11 games, the Illini have six ranked opponents. This group includes two games against No. 3 Purdue, two games against No. 11 Michigan State, a game against No. 14 Ohio State, and a game against No. 24 Wisconsin.

There are plenty of opportunities for the Illini to establish themselves as a premier team in college basketball. If I had to bet, I would lay money on Illinois rising dramatically in the AP Top 25 in the coming months.

Next. Illini looking to build on 2024 class with Jason Asemota. dark