We’ve got a conference champion in Illinois for the first time in four years, and suddenly there’s two Big Ten teams from the state on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
All that and more in this week’s Illinois Rankings.
1. Illinois State (25-5, 17-1 MVC)
Last week: 1
Illinois State earned a share of its first MVC title since 1997-98 by beating Northern Iowa on the road Saturday. The Redbirds will also be the No. 1 seed in the MVC Tournament, playing either Evansville or Indiana State in the quarterfinals.
2. Illinois (17-12, 7-9 Big Ten)
Last week: 3
Illinois has been playing terrific basketball, winning four of its last five including two wins over Northwestern. After being left for dead, the Illini have made their way back on to the bubble.
3. Northwestern (20-9, 9-7 Big Ten)
Last week: 2
Northwestern’s win probability exceeded 95% at Indiana with less than a minute to go, but the Wildcats lost 62-57 lead to fall by one.
4. Loyola (18-13, 8-10 MVC)
Last week: 4
Loyola dropped a tight 72-70 decision at Southern Illinois and will rematch the Salukis in Friday’s MVC quarterfinals.
5. Southern Illinois (16-15, 9-9 MVC)
Last week: 5
With the win over Loyola, Southern Illinois tied for third place in the MVC.
6. DePaul (9-20, 2-14 Big East)
Last week: 9
DePaul got a very solid win at Georgetown and then nearly upset Seton Hall as well. Billy Garrett Jr. had a nice week hitting the game-winning free throws against the Hoyas and dropping a career-high 26 points against the Pirates.
7. Bradley (12-19, 7-11 MVC)
Last week: 10
Bradley enters the MVC Tournament on a three-game winning streak and will face Drake, which they just beat in Des Moines, in the first round.
8. Northern Illinois (15-12, 7-9 MAC)
Last week: 8
NIU split its two games last week, demolishing Central Michigan and then falling by 16 to Eastern Michigan.
9. UIC (14-17, 7-11 Horizon)
Last week: 7
UIC ended the regular season on a four-game losing streak but still gets a bye to the Horizon League quarterfinals.
10. Eastern Illinois (14-15, 6-10 OVC)
Last week: 6
The Panthers ended the regular season in embarrassing fashion by getting blown out by SIU Edwardsville, which had not defeated a Division I team since November.
11. Western Illinois (8-19, 5-11 Summit)
Last week: 11
Western Illinois is limping its way to the Summit League Tournament after losing four straight and six of its last seven.
12. SIU Edwardsville (6-24, 1-15 OVC)
Last week: 13
They finally won!
13. Chicago State (6-24, 1-12 WAC)
Last week: 12
The Cougars are locked into the bottom seed for this year’s WAC Tournament.