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Illinois on the cusp of AP Top 25 for 5th consecutive week

The Illini will not head into 2022 with a ranking.

NCAA Basketball: St. Francis (PA) at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Following a bumpy start to non-conference play, the Illini will not enter the bulk of Big Ten games and 2022 with a ranking.

The Fighting Illini did not return Monday to the AP poll, marking now five consecutive weeks of being unranked. Illinois was the top vote-getter among unranked teams (72 votes).

Illinois started the season 4-2, with losses to unranked Marquette and Cincinnati, and an uninspiring win over UT-RGV.

But now the Illini (10-3) have come roaring back, nearly unbeaten since they dropped out of the polls, making some think they should have re-entered the polls. The other side of that argument? Tell me what seed they are in March (and Illinois is still well on its way to the NCAA Tournament).

The Illini have one game this week: a Sunday night matchup with Minnesota. Illinois revealed Monday morning that it has COVID issues inside the program, forcing the cancelation of Wednesday’s game with Florida A&M.

Purdue is still the highest-ranked Big Ten team at No. 3 (behind Baylor and Duke). Illinois will get its first shot at the Boilermakers on Jan. 17.