Despite falling to Tennessee on Saturday, the Illinois basketball team saw a boost in the latest AP Top 25.
Overall, it wasn’t a terrible week for the Illini. We started things off with a nice win over No. 11 Florida Atlantic. Both Marcus Domask and Terrence Shannon Jr. went off for 33 points en route to Illinois dropping 98 points on the Owls.
Illinois then took on the Volunteers on Saturday. The Illini didn’t look nearly as good against Tennessee, but we still kept in the game throughout. If we could have found a little spark, Illinois would have had a chance to knock off another top-25 program. Sadly, the Volunteers would beat us, 86-79.
This 1-1 record against top 25 teams was always going to keep Illinois in the AP Top 25, but the question was where would we be ranked in the updated version on Monday? Well, that time has come, and the new AP Top 25 has Illinois moving up four spots. We went from No. 20 in the country to now being the No. 16 team in the nation.
Illinois basketball has a nice cool-down period before the Big Ten season starts
What a crazy stretch of games for the Illini. We go on the road for a random Big Ten game and destroy Rutgers on December 2. Illinois headed to New York City on December 5 for the Florida Atlantic matchup after being in New Jersey. We then topped it off with a game in Tennessee on December 9. I don’t believe Illinois has seen Champaign in the month of December.
Now the program is finally back home. There is some much-needed time off this week. The next time the Illini suit up will be Sunday, December 17.
The final three games of the non-conference look very winnable as well. Illinois takes on Colgate this Sunday. They are an average mid-major program. The Braggin’ Rights game then takes place on December 22. Missouri isn’t terrible, but no matter how good or bad each team is that particular season, this game is always a good matchup.
Illinois then rounds out the non-conference with a rematch of the first round of the 2005 NCAA tournament. The Knights made the Illini sweat a little bit in 2005 with a powerhouse Illinois program winning by just 12 points. Fairleigh Dickinson awaits the Illini this time around with a 6-5 record overall.
A move up in the AP Top 25 is great for the Illini. We played some good basketball but a nearly two-week road trip is going to take a lot out of a program. Now that we are going to be refreshed, I expect a great end to the non-conference. Let’s get this to 10-2 heading into the Northwestern matchup on January 2.