Commentary

College hoops in-state rankings

Illinois supplants Northwestern for No. 1 spot

Updated: January 4, 2010, 3:16 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

1. Illinois (9-5) -- The Illini had two overtimes games go different ways last week. They defeated Northwestern and lost to Gonzaga. It's looking like Illinois may be a year away from doing anything serious. Their freshmen are talented, but still too erratic. They lack depth inside and struggle when 7-foot-1 Mike Tisdale isn't on the floor. No one has stepped up to be the go-to guy late in games. This was evident on the final possession of regulation against Northwestern and during the final plays of the second half and overtime against Gonzaga. (Previous ranking 2)

2. Northwestern (10-3) -- The Wildcats lost two games they were expected to lose: at Illinois and at home against Michigan State. It wasn't so much that the losses are critical, but more that Illinois and Michigan State may have exposed some of Northwestern's weaknesses. Illinois had its way in the post against Northwestern's 1-3-1 zone, and Michigan State devoted its full concentration on stopping Michael Thompson. The Wildcats are at Michigan and host Wisconsin next. They need to start building conference wins. (1)

3. Illinois State (11-3) -- The Redbirds knocked off Southern Illinois on Sunday thanks to an 11-0 second-half run and 21 points by Llody Phillips. The win comes off after a narrow loss to Missouri State. Northern Iowa and Missouri State seem to be the teams to beat in the Missouri Valley this season. (5)

4. Southern Illinois (9-3) -- The Salukis had won six straight before losing to Illinois State on Sunday. Guards Tony Freeman and Justin Bocot combined to shoot 8-for-26 from the field in the team's loss. Southern Illinois has a big game coming up as it hosts Northern Iowa next. (3)

5. Loyola (11-3) -- The Ramblers were the hottest team in the state until Detroit snapped their seven-game winning streak on Saturday. Loyola's offense had an off day against Detroit, scoring just 42 points. The Ramblers are on the road for their next three games. (4)

6. Bradley (6-7) -- The season started out so promising for the Braves, but now they have fallen under .500 after losing to Southern Illinois and Wichita State. In both losses, Bradley looked to be in good position going in halftime and then fell apart in the second half.(6)

7. DePaul (7-7) -- The Blue Demons dropped their 21st consecutive Big East regular-season game with its loss to Georgetown on Sunday. The streak is likely to continue as they travel to Villanova next, but it could end on Jan. 14 when they host Providence. DePaul needs other players to step up aside from Mac Koshwal. He was the only player in double figures against Georgetown. (7)

8. UIC (5-9) -- The Flames had won two straight before Wright State knocked them off on Saturday. Robert Kreps has continued to dominate for UIC. He had 31 points in the win over Detroit and 20 against Toledo. The Flames' key continues to get others involved. (8)

9. Eastern Illinois (7-4) -- The Panthers lost by 18 to Saint Louis, but bounced back with a two-point win over Jacksonville State. Jeremy Granger had 18 points in the win. (9)

10. Northern Illinois (3-9) -- The Huskies hung around with Temple longer than expected last week. Xavier Silas' 26 points had a lot to do with that. Silas scored another 24 in Northern Illinois' following game and helped it to a win over South Dakota. Chicago State is up next. (10)

11. Western Illinois (5-8) -- The Leathernecks have lost their last two games and are 0-4 in the Summit. Ceola Clark is the lone Western Illinois player averaging double figures. (11)

12. Chicago State (5-10) -- The Cougars have lost their last three games. In their last game, they led Eastern Michigan at half, but were out-scored 40-23 in the second half. Northern Illinois is ahead for them. (12)

13. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (2-12) -- The Cougars are on a six-game losing streak. Mark Yelovich is averaging 15.0 points and 6.6 rebounds. (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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