Illinois Basketball: National media outlet has Illini starting ranked in top 25

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 03: Kendall Bostic #44 of the Illinois Fighting Illini looks to pass while Faith Masonius #13 of the Maryland Terrapins defends in the first half of the game in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament at Target Center on March 3, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 03: Kendall Bostic #44 of the Illinois Fighting Illini looks to pass while Faith Masonius #13 of the Maryland Terrapins defends in the first half of the game in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament at Target Center on March 3, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /
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The women’s Illinois basketball team is looking to make national headlines this season with the talent that is returning.

No one saw the rise of the Illini coming this quickly. Shauna Green did wonders at Dayton, but most fans figured it would take a few years to make this team average, let alone competitive.

A 21-win regular season in year one accelerated the timeline. That many wins out of this program was unthinkable just a couple of years ago. Now Illinois is hitting that mark, plus we won 11 games in the Big Ten.

This type of production is getting noticed as well. Illinois made the NCAA tournament last season and heading into the 2023-24 campaign, the Orange and Blue look to be ranked from day one.


While the first AP Top 25 poll has yet to hit the newsstand, national outlets are releasing their early versions of what they believe the top 25 should look like entering the season.

The Athletic is one of those outlets. They published their women’s top 25 last Wednesday, and the top team is the obvious choice, the LSU Tigers. They return a ton of talent, including superstar Angel Reese (great last name).

If you scroll down a little further, you will find the “Illinois Illini” at No. 21 in the nation. Asking for full respect by getting our name correct might be too much to ask, but at least we have the eyes of some national press. Checking in inside the top 25 is a big deal for the Orange and Blue.

An experienced women’s Illinois basketball team will have a tough road in the Big Ten

Just about a month ago, I wrote about the tremendous amount of experience returning to the Illini. We are bringing back players like Makira Cook and Kendall Bostic. They are going to lead a roster that will consist of at least 82% of the production from each statistical category last season.

Even with all of the talent returning, getting back to 21 wins in 2023-24 might prove difficult. Illinois plays two non-conference teams that made the NCAA tournament last season. Marquette is the easier of the two games, as they were a No. 9 seed in the postseason. Illinois also plays Notre Dame, which finished No. 10 in the nation and made the Sweet 16.

In The Athletic top 25, they have ranked multiple Big Ten teams. Illinois only plays No. 6 Iowa and No. 7 Ohio State one time this upcoming season. We do match up against No. 9 Indiana and No. 15 Maryland twice, though.

So, from The Athletic top 25, the Illini play the No. 6, No. 7, and No. 11 teams once, and we play the No. 9 and No. 15 teams twice. That is a tough schedule that will test the resiliency of this program. I can’t wait to see what Illinois can do this season.

Next. 5 observations from the Illini loss to Purdue. dark