Commentary

College hoops in-state rankings

Salukis creeping up in Illinois college basketball rankings

Updated: December 19, 2009, 3:13 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

1. Northwestern (8-1) -- The Wildcats cruised to two 30-point-plus wins over North Carolina A&T and North Florida in the past week. Northwestern's schedule does pick up from now on. Stanford comes into town on Saturday, and it kicks off the Big Ten season at Illinois on Dec. 30. Those are both key games for the Wildcats to prove their doubters wrong. (previously ranked #1)

2. Illinois (8-2) -- The Illini disposed of Western Michigan easily in a 35-point win on Sunday. Like Northwestern, their schedule is about to get a lot tougher. Their next three games are at Georgia, vs. Missouri in St. Louis and home against the Wildcats. Illinois has put together four wins since its two-game losing streak. (2)

3. Southern Illinois (5-2) -- Aside from Illinois and Northwestern, the state is a bit of a mess at this point. The Salukis haven't beat any quality opponents, and they lost to Saint Louis and UNLV, but they appear to be the state's third best team right now. No one else has stepped up. They have San Diego and San Francisco this weekend. (5)

4. Loyola (7-2) -- The Ramblers have been the biggest surprise of the season. They may not have the individual stars of a season ago, but they appear to be more of a team. A number of guys contributed in their 68-65 win at Bradley on Wednesday. (7)

5. Illinois State (7-2) -- The Redbirds finally were tested, and they failed twice. Illinois State's first loss of the season came in a 76-68 defeat to Niagara, and that was followed by an 18-point loss to Ohio. The team's star Osiris Eldridge struggled in both losses. (3)

6. Bradley (5-4) -- Since defeating Illinois and Northern Illinois in back-to-back games, the Braves haven't been the same team. They have lost their last two games. They scored just 23 points in the second half in their loss at home to Loyola. (4)

7. DePaul (6-4) -- The Blue Demons took a big hit on Wednesday as fell at home to American, which had only one win coming into the night. It's these sort of losses that make people question coach Jerry Wainwright. DePaul obviously misses Mac Koshwal, but it needs to find a way to get better or the Big East season is going to be rough again. (6)

8. UIC (2-6) -- The Flames snapped their six-game losing streak with a 63-61 win over Oregon State. Robo Kreps came up big for UIC with a key late basket and a game-high 19 points. Northern Illinois is up next. (9)

9. Northern Illinois (1-6) -- The Huskies' troubles have continued. They lost by 41 points to Minnesota earlier this week. The one positive is Xavier Silas has returned from injury. He should give Northern Illinois some of the scoring production that they desperately need. (8)

10. Eastern Illinois (5-4) -- The Panthers edged Western Illinois 44-41 last Saturday thanks to Jeremy Granger, who scored six of Eastern Illinois' last eight points. Both teams shot under 30 percent. (10)

11. Western Illinois (4-6) -- Eastern Illinois and Western Illinois both struggled from the field in their in-state meeting, but the Leathernecks were the worse of the two. They shot 15-for-55 for 27 percent. David Nurse and David Gebru combined for 27 of the team's 41 points. (11)

12. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (2-8) -- The Cougars' winning streak was stopped at two as they have lost their last two games. They lost by 20 to Lipscomb and 25 to Middle Tennessee. (12)

13. Chicago State (3-6) -- The Cougars have dropped their last five games. Olivet Nazarene, a NAIA team, beat them 75-68 on Thursday. They travel to Tulsa next. (13)

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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