It took a winning streak, but they’re back.
Illinois’ first top-10 road win in 12 years, beating up on the conference’s cupcakes and a home win over Indiana helped the Illini jump back into the Associated Press Top-25 poll on Monday, where Brad Underwood’s team finds itself at No. 23.
The Illini have gotten as high as No. 19 this season, but dropped out of the poll after four straight losses, highlighted by a homestand with defeats to Maryland and Michigan State.
It’s another weird week for the polls overall, as a handful of top-10 teams lost Saturday to unranked foes, and Maryland lost to No. 24 Michigan State. Kansas, Gonzaga, San Diego State and Dayton look like the teams prepped to get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament later this month.
Illinois has a tough task ahead to stay in the poll again past this week, with a nationally televised road game against Ohio State on Thursday and Senior Day versus Iowa next Sunday.
Win both and the Illini secure themselves a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament and, with a Maryland loss, a share of the Big Ten regular season title for the first time in 15 years.
How about that?