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Illinois guard Trent Frazier (1) guards Maryland's guard Fatts Russell (4) in a NCAA basketball game at the State Farm Center in Champaign on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022.

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CHAMPAIGN — Illinois has spent the past three weeks on the cusp of the Associated Press Top 25. That includes two weeks as, nominally, the No. 26 team in the nation. The first among “others receiving votes.”

Two Big Ten wins last week — plus some losses among the ranked teams — was the push Illinois (11-3, 4-0 Big Ten) needed to get back in the AP Top 25 on Monday as the No. 25 team. It’s the Illini’s first time ranked since the Nov. 22 poll.

Illinois has won nine of its last 10 games, with the only loss coming to a now top 10 Arizona team by four points. One of two teams unbeaten in Big Ten play along with Michigan State, the Illini have notched six top 100 wins since losing on back-to-back Mondays in November to Marquette (by one point without Kofi Cockburn) and Cincinnati (by a still hard to defend 20 points).

Newly re-ranked, Illinois will continue Big Ten play at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Nebraska. The Illini are also scheduled to play Michigan at 8 p.m. Friday at State Farm Center, but the Wolverines are currently in a COVID-19 pause that has cost them two postponements already.

Beat writer Scott Richey’s ballot

1. Baylor

2. Gonzaga

3. UCLA

4. Arizona

5. Auburn

6. LSU

7. Purdue

8. Duke

9. Kansas

10. USC

11. Michigan State

12. Xavier

13. Wisconsin

14. Houston

15. Iowa State

16. Texas Tech

17. Miami

18. Illinois

19. Villanova

20. Ohio State

21. Providence

22. Seton Hall

23. Texas

24. Kentucky

25. Colorado State

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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