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Illinois remains just outside AP poll for sixth week in a row

The Illini are still unranked.

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

The Illini are not back in the AP Top 25 in the first poll of 2022.

After not playing a game last week due to COVID issues, Illinois remained at No. 26 in Monday’s new rankings, meaning they were the first unranked team.

Illinois has not been ranked for the past six weeks, but it has been the top vote-getter among unranked teams several times, including last week.

The Illini fell out of the rankings after starting the season 4-2, with losses to unranked Marquette and Cincinnati, and an uninspiring win over UT-RGV.

But now the Illini (9-3) have come roaring back, nearly unbeaten since they dropped out. 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).

It’s going to be a busy week for the Illini with two games in three days: Tuesday night at Minnesota and Thursday night vs. Maryland. Both of Illinois’ games last week (vs. Florida A&M, at Minnesota) were canceled due to the Illini’s COVID issues.

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.