After a week that featured one game, the men’s Illinois basketball team is back in the rankings.
An 84-52 victory over the Leathernecks caught the eye of some of the AP Top 25 votes as well. Apparently, that is why Illinois went from having the second-most votes to being in the top 25 last week to now being the No. 24 team in the nation.
Illinois moved up, essentially, from No. 27 to No. 24 in the AP Top 25. We jumped USC, who just dropped its second game of the season to Oklahoma, Memphis, who remains with the largest number of votes like last week, and Michigan State, who just fell to 3-3 on the season.
Illinois basketball has a tough stretch of the 2023-24 season coming up
It is nice being back in the AP Top 25. Last week didn’t make sense, as Illinois’ only loss was to then-No. 4 Marquette by seven points. That loss shouldn’t have dropped us more than one spot.
But the Illini have a number next to our name once again. Things don’t get easier from here, though.
This Saturday, Illinois has a random Big Ten game against Rutgers on the road. The Scarlet Knights seem to always be tough, and they are 4-1 on the season.
Following the game against Rutgers, Illinois then plays No. 13 FAU on December 5 and at No. 10 Tennessee on December 9.
Illinois’ non-conference is appropriately tough. I love that we are playing good teams in the non-conference to get us ready for a tough Big Ten schedule ahead. If we can rattle off three wins in the next three games, look for the Illini to skyrocket up the AP Top 25.
I would imagine two top-15 victories would move Illinois up into the top 15 and maybe even the top 10 if there are a few programs that drop games in the coming weeks. This will be a real tester to see where the Orange and Blue are in early December.