Illinois Rankings, Dec. 19

Photo: Northwestern Athletics

Last week was filled with local matchups. Chicago State and UIC each played two schools from the Chicago area, and Northwestern and Illinois competed in separate games at the United Center.

While the top teams stayed put, the bottom two thirds of the Illinois Rankings showed many shakeups.

Photo: Northwestern Athletics

1. Northwestern (9-2)

Last week: 1

Northwestern held off Dayton’s furious comeback Saturday at the United Center to extend its winning streak to six games. The Wildcats have now won 16 straight games in the month of December.

2. Illinois (9-3)

Last week: 2

The Illini knocked off BYU at the United Center on Saturday for their fifth straight win. They wrap up non-conference play with another neutral site game against rival Missouri.

3. Loyola (10-2)

Last week: 3

A last-second three by Donte Ingram forced overtime against, and the Ramblers pulled away in the extra period for a win.

They have now won five straight games entering the non-conference finale Tuesday at Toledo.

4. Illinois State (6-3)

Last week: 4

The Redbirds have won five of their last six games with the only loss coming by two points at Tulsa. They can prove their December surge is no fluke at the Diamond Head Classic with a road game against Hawaii and possible neutral site matchups against Utah and San Diego State.

5. Southern Illinois (6-5)

Last week: 5

The Salukis snapped a two-game losing streak with a 70-55 win over rival Saint Louis. SIU travels to UNLV on Monday with the MVC-MWC Challenge on the line. The Valley holds a 5-4 lead going into the event’s final game.

6. Eastern Illinois (7-4)

Last week: 9

The Panthers recorded their biggest win in years, knocking off Missouri on the road. They finished their four-game road trip with a 3-1 record and could be contenders in the OVC this year if the road success continues.

7. Northern Illinois (6-5)

Last week: 8

The Huskies edged FIU on Saturday to get back above .500. They play their final D1 non-conference game Tuesday against struggling AAC program South Florida.

8. UIC (5-6)

Last week: 10

UIC had a very good week and was one play away from a great week. The Flames upset rival DePaul on the road despite leading scorer Dikembe Dixson going down in the first half with an injury, and then without Dixson they nearly pulled off another rivalry upset against Loyola.

Although Dixson is out for the year with an ACL tear, these two performances showed UIC can remain competitive without him going into Horizon League play.

9. Bradley (5-6)

Last week: 6

Bradley fell just shy of a big upset, dropping a 56-51 contest to UT Arlington. The Braves’ tough finish to non-conference play continues this week with games at Ole Miss and TCU.

10. DePaul (6-4)

Last week: 7

After a rough loss at home to UIC, DePaul bounced back nicely to throttle Chicago State, 109-61. The Blue Demons will get a big game Friday as part of the Las Vegas Classic against either USC or Missouri State.

11. SIU Edwardsville (4-7)

Last week: 11

SIU-Edwardsville fell to Saint Louis for its fourth straight loss, but at least the Cougars got this highlight.

12. Chicago State (3-8)

Last week: 12

A head-to-head victory keeps Chicago State just barely ahead of Western Illinois this week.

13. Western Illinois (3-7)

Last week: 13

Western Illinois got its first D1 win of the season, blowing out Milwaukee on the road. Who thinks the Leathernecks can string together another road win when they travel to Purdue on Monday?

Past rankings:

Dec. 12

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