Happy new year!
The Associated Press dropped its first top 25 rankings of 2024 on Monday, and Illinois checked in at No. 9.
That’s up two spots from the Illini’s No. 11 ranking last week, which was the highest so far this season.
While Illinois only played one game last week — a 104-71 romp over FDU — it was a busy week for the Illini, who suspended Terrence Shannon Jr. indefinitely after he was charged with rape in Kansas.
With Shannon out for the foreseeable future — and potentially the rest of the season — it’s not very clear yet how the AP voters will treat the Illini. Shannon was the team’s best player before his suspension, averaging 21.7 points per game.
Either way, the schedule gets a lot more challenging right now. Illinois (10-2, 1-0 Big Ten) will host Northwestern on Tuesday night before traveling to No. 1 Purdue on Friday. It’d be quite the victory for the Illini to pull off without Shannon, but if this team plays like it did against the Knights, they can certainly give the Boilers a run for their money.