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Illinois makes big jump in latest AP poll

A bumpy week ended with two wins.

TCR // David Pollak

It wasn’t the prettiest weeks of basketball for Illinois, but the Fighting Illini are right back in the mix for a Big Ten title — and making strides in the latest AP poll.

Illinois checked in at No. 10 on Monday, up from No. 14 last week.

Purdue is still No. 2 (behind defending champion UCONN), while Wisconsin dropped from No. 6 to No 11 after two tight losses. Illinois will play both of those teams in a four-day stretch in March (at Wisconsin on 3/2, vs. Purdue on 3/5).

The Illini’s week started with a comfortable win over Ohio State on the road, but ended rather intense with an overtime thriller against Nebraska. Illinois blew a 10-point lead in the final minutes of regulation, but still finished off a three-point win behind some made free throws and timely defense in OT.

Now a chance for Illinois (17-5, 8-3) to breathe. Just one game this week, on the road at Michigan State on CBS on Saturday afternoon.

Win that, and the schedule cools down (minus a contest at Maryland, which is Illinois’ personal House of Horrors).

Everything is still at play for the Illini. Time to take a break for a couple days.