1. Illinois (12-7, 2-4 Big Ten). Last week: 1
Illinois’ NCAA Tournament hopes are thinning after Sunday’s home loss to Indiana. The Illini did eke out a road win against Northwestern earlier in the week, which kept them from falling too far in the Big Ten standings.
2. DePaul (10-9, 4-2 Big East). Last week: 4
DePaul would amazingly be No. 1 in these rankings if it had closed out a win against Georgetown last Tuesday. The Blue Demons lost that one by a close margin but bounced back with an overtime win Sunday against St. John’s.
They are tied for second place in the Big East, just a half-game behind first-place Villanova.
3. Loyola (13-5, 3-3 MVC). Last week: 2
Loyola had a tough week where it finally fell back to earth. The upstart Ramblers barely beat Drake and then lost at Southern Illinois, giving the Salukis their first MVC win of the year.
The Ramblers have another big week coming up with games against Evansville and Indiana State.
4. Northwestern (10-8, 1-4 Big Ten). Last week: 3
Northwestern lost twice last week by a total of seven points. First, the Wildcats lost at home to Illinois in what was a one-point game in the final minute. Then they fell to Michigan as Bryant McIntosh missed a shot at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.
And that was supposed to be the easy week in January. Now the Wildcats have to face Ohio State and Maryland this week.
5. Eastern Illinois (12-6, 6-0 OVC). Last week: 6
Eastern Illinois is off to an impressive start in the OVC. With a win Thursday against Murray State, the Panthers can take complete control of first place in the conference.
6. Illinois State (11-7, 3-3 MVC). Last week: 5
Illinois State swallowed a tough, overtime loss at Indiana State. But overall, the Redbirds have won three of their last four games thanks to Saturday’s win against Bradley.
The Redbirds have a big opportunity this Sunday when they host Northern Iowa. The Catch and Shoot will be in attendance for that one.
7. Northern Illinois (7-8, 1-3 MAC). Last week: 7
Northern Illinois dropped three straight games going against some of the MAC’s better teams. The Huskies return home this week in need of some bounce-back victories.
8. Southern Illinois (8-11, 1-5 MVC). Last week: 11
Southern Illinois has lost several close games, and this time the Salukis finally came out on the right side. They held off Loyola on Sunday for a 59-52 win.
9. Western Illinois (7-10, 2-4 Summit). Last week: 8
After a strong start to Summit League play, Western Illinois has lost four games in a row. The Leathernecks host South Dakota in their only game this week.
10. Bradley (6-13, 1-5 MVC). Last week: 9
Bradley is finally getting healthy, but the results are not showing in the win column. The Braves fell to Northern Iowa and Illinois State last week.
11. SIU-Edwardsville (7-10, 3-3 OVC). Last week: 10
SIU-Edwardsville was overmatched by Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky last week. The Cougars have an easier matchup Thursday against Austin Peay.
12. UIC (5-14, 1-3 Horizon). Last week: 12
UIC looked poised for its second Horizon League victory, but a late-game collapse allowed Detroit to escape Chicago with a win. The Flames now have to go on a three-game road trip, starting with Green Bay on Tuesday.
13. Chicago State (4-15, 0-2 WAC). Last week: 13
Chicago State is off to a rough start in the WAC, although both losses have been in close games on the road. The Cougars finally come home for the first time in 2015 when they host Seattle on Thursday.