1. Northwestern (3-0). Last week: 2
Northwestern defeated Columbia in overtime Friday to extend its home winning streak to seven games. The Wildcats have a chance for a statement win Monday against national title contender North Carolina.
2. Western Illinois (4-0). Last week: 11
Maybe Western Illinois’ win at Wisconsin was not such a fluke. The Leathernecks ganged up on easy competition last week, defeating UIC and Eastern Illinois by an average of 23.5 points.
3. Loyola (3-1). Last week: 3
Loyola erased an 18-point deficit Saturday to knock off Toledo. The Ramblers are one of the favorites in the Great Alaska Shootout this week.
4. Illinois State (2-2). Last week: 4
Illinois State eased some concerns with a cakewalk victory against Houston Baptist, but a 16-point loss at home to South Dakota State is not what people expected out of a team that beat Wichita State last season.
5. Illinois (1-3). Last week: 1
Yes, Illinois is banged up and playing a tough schedule. But 1-3 is 1-3. With losses to North Florida and Chattanooga, the Illini are already set up for an uphill battle into the NCAA Tournament.
6. Northern Illinois (4-0). Last week: 6
The Huskies are off to their best start since the 1994-95 season. That team started 8-0, and this year’s squad has a strong chance at reaching at least 7-0. It’s next three games are against IU-Northwestern (NAIA), Idaho and Chicago State.
7. Southern Illinois (4-0). Last week: 7
Southern Illinois has its best start since the 2004-05 season. The Salukis already have one respectable win against Kent State, and they can get another this week against Oakland.
8. DePaul (1-3). Last week: 5
After knocking off Western Michigan in its opener, DePaul has lost three straight. The Blue Demons face Norfolk State on Monday in the seventh place game of the Paradise Jam.
9. Bradley (1-4). Last week: 10
Bradley has lost four straight after opening with a win against Ball State.
10. UIC (0-2). Last week: 8
The new era at Steve McClain is off to a slow start, beginning with losses to San Francisco and Western Illinois. The Flames should get an easy win Tuesday against NAIA program Roosevelt.
11. SIU-Edwardsville (1-2). Last week: 13
The Cougars opened with a win against Arkansas State but followed with losses to Saint Louis and IPFW.
12. Chicago State (3-1). Last week: 12
All three of Chicago State’s wins have come against non-Division I teams. The only D-1 team the Cougars have played is Iowa State, and they lost 106-64.
13. Eastern Illinois (0-3). Last week: 9
Eastern Illinois has lost each of its games by at least 17 points.