Illinois Basketball: Illini continue rise in the AP Top 25

Dec 9, 2023; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood during
Dec 9, 2023; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood during / Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

A new AP Top 25 poll has been released, and once again, the Illinois basketball team is moving up in the world.

After a long road trip that saw the Illini away from Champaign for nearly two weeks, Illinois came back home and took care of business against Colgate. An eight-day break between games helped take down the Raiders. Illinois extended the lead to 22 points at one time and would cruise to a 74-57 win.

This was the lone game of the week for the then-No. 16 Illini. With that win, and some help from teams ahead of us, Illinois moved up three spots to No. 13 in the nation in the latest AP Top 25.

A good win on Sunday afternoon. For the most part, I was extremely happy with what I saw from everyone. Solid team win. #Illini #Illinois #Basketball #B1G

Posted by Writing Illini on Monday, December 18, 2023

Illinois basketball has numerous teams ahead that have some AP Top 25 attention

Illinois has already played three teams in the AP Top 25. Marquette is now No. 6 and Tennessee is No. 8 in the country. The Illini lost to both of those teams. Florida Atlantic checks in at No. 14, and that is a team Illinois managed to take down in the last couple of weeks.

There are some tough games ahead for the Illini as well. Illinois plays the now-No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers twice this season, starting on January 5. Wisconsin is the only other Big Ten team ranked, and they are now the No. 24 team in the country. We only face the Badgers once this season.

Three different Big Ten teams do have votes to be in the AP Top 25. Ohio State has the most with 12 votes. Michigan State and Northwestern follow the Buckeyes with 10 and five votes, respectively.

Illinois plays Ohio State once this season on January 30. We then play Michigan State and Northwestern two times during the 2023-24 campaign.

So, the rest of the way out, Illinois plays eight games against ranked teams or teams that are getting votes to be ranked. The schedule could be harder, but this isn’t a cakewalk by any means. The full Big Ten season starts on January 2.

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