Illinois Basketball: Illini are rising in AP Top 25 and bracketology

Illinois basketball has a team ranked inside the AP Top 25, and it isn’t on the men’s side.

It has been an amazing story for the Illini women’s team this season. After being a dumpster fire for the past decade, the Orange and Blue are now a respectable program led by one of the best coaches in the game, Shauna Green.

The official, “hello, world” moment came on January 1 when the Illini took down No. 12 Iowa, 90-86. Leading up to that game, Illinois had been winning, going 12-2 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten, but it was the Iowa game that put this program back on the map.

That victory over the Hawkeyes also earned Illinois some votes to be in the AP Top 25. Illinois would go on to beat Northwestern this past week and then had undefeated No. 3 Ohio State on the ropes in Columbus. While that game didn’t go in favor of the Orange and Blue, the national pundits are starting to recognize even more that Illinois is here to stay.

On Monday afternoon, the program took another leap forward. The newest AP Top 25 poll was released, and the Illini jumped up to No. 24 in the nation.

Shauna Green has the Illinois basketball team rising in the latest NCAA tournament bracketology.

This is the first time since 2000 that the Illini have been in the AP Top 25. Just let that soak in for a moment. Green, along with a great roster, has propelled this program to heights that haven’t been seen in 23 years.

Illinois’ great run has them in serious contention of not only making the NCAA tournament, but we could actually get a decent seed come March.

In the latest ESPN bracketology, they have Illinois waiving bye-bye to the bubble and landing as the No. 7 seed in the Seattle bracket. Their first-round opponent would be traditional power, Tennessee.

There is one caveat to this bracketology, though. This was produced on January 3. A lot has changed since then. Illinois is now in the AP Top 25 at No. 24. There is a chance, when the new bracketology is published, that we will move up to the No. 6 seed spot or higher.

I know many of you will still pay way more attention to the men’s game, but I think it is time to start shifting a little more focus on Green’s squad. This team is really good, and they are the only basketball team ranked in Champaign.