Illinois Basketball: Latest AP Top 25 shows strength of Illini non-conference

Illinois v Tennessee
Illinois v Tennessee / Eakin Howard/GettyImages

Illinois basketball continued the push for a top seed in the NCAA tournament this past week.

There was only one game on the docket for the Orange and Blue since the last AP Top 25 was released. The Illini played Missouri on Friday night in what was the latest rendition of the Braggin’ Rights game.

After a 22-point blowout loss to the Tigers last season, Illinois had some revenge on our minds. From the tip, this wasn’t much of a game. A quick double-digit lead turned into a 24-point drubbing. That included Illinois letting off the gas for pretty much the entire second half.

While Missouri wasn’t ranked, this was somewhat of a statement game for the Illini. The Tigers gave all Kansas could handle a few weeks ago and were 7-4 entering the big rivalry game. Illinois was the big dog in this matchup, and the fact Missouri came at us with everything they had and we still beat them by 24 points is a pretty big deal.

With this win over the Tigers, and a few other teams losing, Illinois did see a slight bump in the most recent AP Top 25. Entering Monday, we were the No. 13 team in the country and after the polls were released, Illinois now sits at No. 11 after a two-spot jump.

Some familiar faces are just ahead of the Illinois basketball team in the AP Top 25

While Illinois sits at No. 11 in the country, if you look just ahead of us, you will see a few teams that have already been on our schedule.

At No. 10 is one of Illinois’ two losses in Marquette. The Golden Eagles dropped a game on the road against Providence. Keeping them ahead of the Illini in the ranking is understandable, though.

You will find Florida Atlantic at No. 7 in the country. While Illinois did beat the Owls, the AP Top 25 jumped Florida Atlantic seven spots from No. 14. This jump came after a double-overtime win over No. 4 Arizona.

Tennessee then checks in at the No. 6 spot. This was Illinois' only other loss of the season. After a long road trip, the Illini competed against the Volunteers but came up just short. Tennessee sits at 9-3 this season.

I love how three of the non-conference opponents Illinois played this season are ranked in the top 10. That helps with seeding and just overall confidence we can compete with the top teams in the country.

That doesn’t even include the fact Illinois still plays No. 1 Purdue twice this season, No. 23 Wisconsin once this season, and Ohio State, Michigan State, and Northwestern are all receiving votes to be in the AP Top 25.

dark. Next. Time to include Terrence Shannon Jr. in the Big Ten Player of the Year talks. Time to include Terrence Shannon Jr. in the Big Ten Player of the Year talks