1. Northwestern (7-1). Last week: 1
Northwestern edged Virginia Tech in overtime and then dominated SIU-Edwardsville. The Wildcats easy slate continues Sunday against Chicago State.
2. Southern Illinois (8-1). Last week: 2
The Salukis keep on rolling. They’ve won three straight games since losing to UTEP and should be heavily favored in their matchups this week against SIU-Edwardsville and North Texas.
3. Western Illinois (6-1). Last week: 3
Western Illinois has a pretty record and a great win over Wisconsin, but three of its other victories have come against non-Division I schools. Another big opportunity awaits the Leathernecks on Monday when they travel to Iowa.
4. Loyola (5-3). Last week: 5
After slumping at the Great Alaska Shootout, Loyola made a statement with a 68-65 win over Big East foe Creighton. The Ramblers have another big challenge Sunday at Notre Dame.
5. Northern Illinois (7-1). Last week: 4
Northern Illinois’ perfect start ended Friday with a 78-71 loss at Missouri. The Huskies have the week off before playing at Ohio State on Dec. 16.
6. DePaul (4-3). Last week: 8
DePaul established some local supremacy last week with blowout victories against Chicago State and UIC. The Blue Demons have a tougher week ahead with games against better mid-majors Drake and Arkansas-Little Rock.
7. Illinois (4-5). Last week: 7
Illinois pulled away from Western Carolina in the second half Saturday to end a two-game slide. More mid-major foes await the Illini with games against Yale and UIC this week.
8. Illinois State (3-6). Last week: 6
If the first three weeks are any indication of what’s to come in the winter, Illinois State could find itself in the MVC Tournament play-in round. The Redbirds have played a very tough schedule, but their only Division I wins are against Morehead State and Houston Baptist.
9. Eastern Illinois (2-4). Last week: 13
Eastern Illinois has beaten a Division I team in the last three weeks, and that’s more than any of the teams ranked below the Panthers can say.
10. Bradley (1-8). Last week: 9
Bradley was poised to end its long losing streak, but it blew a 10-point lead to North Dakota in the second half and fell in double overtime.
11. UIC (1-5). Last week: 10
UIC is still looking for its first Division I win under new head coach Steve McClain.
12. Chicago State (3-6). Last week: 12
Chicago State has lost five straight after losing big to Northern Illinois and DePaul last week. The Cougars will be underdogs again this week in games against Valparaiso and Northwestern.
13. SIU-Edwardsville (1-7). Last week: 11
SIU Edwardsville has lost seven in a row, and all but one have been by at least 10 points.