Inquiring minds want to know: Which voters included Illinois on their ballot this week for The Associated Press women's basketball poll?
If you read Tuesday's print edition of The News-Gazette or have gone through the recent story menu at IlliniHQ.com, you already know it wasn't me. There's no denying that Matt Bollant's unranked Illini have played extremely well lately and turned heads with victories against then-No. 6 Georgia and against Ohio State, a team that had won 31 straight at home until Illinois stopped that streak on Sunday.
Given Illinois' 8-6 record, however, I''m yet to be persuaded that it is among the nation's 25 best teams. If the Illini keep winning and, in particular, keep knocking off quality teams, I'm sure they'll find a spot on my future ballots .
Based on the fact that Illinois received four points in the latest AP Top 25, not everyone agrees with my wait-and-see approach. And I was curious to find out who they are. As it turns out, AP makes that information public. Here's the on-line link: http://tinyurl.com/43tz39t.
There you will find the names and media affiliations of each of the poll's voters. Click on the "Poll Votes" link and you'll see the latest ballot of that individual.
When I went to this site in search of the Illini's Top 25 supporters, I started with voters in and around Illinois on the assumption that they would be most familiar with how the Illini have performed lately and therefore the most likely to vote for Bollant's team.
No such luck. It then was a matter of clicking on the ballot link for each voter. A pain-staking process, given that there are 40 voters.
After many clicks, I had my answer. Brook Weisbrod of ESPN voted the Illini No. 23, good for three points. Jayda Evans of the Seattle Times had Illnois at No. 25, good for one point.
Not nearly enough, of course, to crack the Top 25, but enough to put Illinois on the national radar. It's been a while. The last time the Illini received votes in the AP poll? Dec. 7, 2009.