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Illinois moves up in AP Poll despite loss to Purdue

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That blowout didn’t hurt the Illini.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois still sits atop the Big Ten standings with a handful of games to go, and the Illini are getting some love on Valentine’s Day from the voters.

After reaching No. 13 last week, Illinois moved up to to No. 12 this week, which comes after the Illini were swept in their season series by Purdue. Brad Underwood’s group capped the week with a tight win over Northwestern on Sunday, even after the Illini led by 14 at the break.

The path to a regular season conference title is still pretty attainable (just win out or get some help from Purdue’s opponents), but with a fairly weak Big Ten toward the middle and bottom, it’s not clear if the voters will put Illinois in the top-10 for the rest of the regular season.

But as most of you routinely say in our comments, these rankings don’t matter — and you’re right! We care about March!

In ESPN’s latest Bracketology (from Friday), Illinois is a No. 3 seed in the South (San Antonio) Region. They would play Liberty in the Round of 64 and potentially other top-4 seeds Arizona, Houston and Baylor.

Sounds fun! Four weeks until Selection Sunday!