It was an up and down week for Northwestern, which hung on to its No. 1 spot with a huge win over Wisconsin. But Illinois State isn’t far behind after beating up on inferior competition in the MVC.
All that and more in this week’s Illinois Rankings.
1. Northwestern (19-6, 8-4 Big Ten)
Last week: 1
After hitting a season-low with a loss at home to Illinois, Northwestern went on the road to upset No. 7 Wisconsin. The Wildcats are just a couple of wins away from locking up a NCAA Tournament berth.
(Have you heard that they’ve never done that before?)
2. Illinois State (21-5, 13-1 MVC)
Last week: 2
The Redbirds are still tied atop the Valley with Wichita State, but they have a tougher finish to the season with games needing to play all four teams competing for third place in the MVC.
3. Illinois (14-12, 4-9 Big Ten)
Last week: 5
Illinois got a huge win at Northwestern but proceeded to lose at home to Penn State. The Illini should be slight underdogs in each of their next three games against Iowa, Northwestern and Nebraska.
4. Southern Illinois (14-13, 7-7 MVC)
Last week: 3
After getting into the driver’s seat for 3rd place in the Valley, Southern Illinois dropped two crucial games last week. Considering the Salukis still have to face Wichita State, Illinois State and Loyola, their chances for a top three finish are looking slim.
5. Loyola (16-11, 6-8 MVC)
Last week: 4
The Ramblers have lost four in a row amidst a shooting slump. They are now two games out of third place in the Valley.
6. Northern Illinois (14-11, 6-6 MAC)
Last week: 6
NIU dropped a pair last week, but even with a 6-6 record they are tied for first place in the MAC West. Everyone in that division is 6-6 or 5-7.
7. Eastern Illinois (13-13, 5-8 OVC)
Last week: 9
Eastern Illinois has won four of its last five after holding off SEMO in overtime on Saturday. The Panthers have a tough finish to the season with three road games.
8. UIC (13-13, 6-7 Horizon)
Last week: 7
UIC came from behind in the final minutes to beat Youngstown State but then blew a lead and lost to Cleveland State over the weekend. It’s looking like the Flames will finish 6th in the Horizon League.
9. DePaul (8-17, 1-11 Big East)
Last week: 8
DePaul lost a competitive games at Xavier and then got demolished at home by Creighton. They are now 3.5 games out of 9th place in the Big East with six games left.
10. Bradley (9-18, 4-10 MVC)
Last week: 10
After a solid start in the MVC, Bradley has lost eight of its last nine games, falling into a three-way tie for last place.
11. Western Illinois (8-15, 5-7 Summit)
Last week: 11
Western Illinois ended a two-game skid with a win at Oral Roberts, its first road victory since Dec. 29.
12. Chicago State (6-21, 1-9 WAC)
Last week: 12
The Cougars are in free fall with seven straight conference losses and the last three coming by an average of 31 points.
13. SIU Edwardsville (5-22, 0-13 OVC)
Last week: 13
SIU-E has not defeated a Division I team since November.