Commentary

Illinois college basketball rankings

Illinois has grip on top spot

Updated: February 26, 2010, 7:14 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

1. Illinois (18-10): The Illini will likely be the only representative from the state in the NCAA Tournament. But even Illinois needs at least one more to feel better about its chances. It closes its season with Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin, three other possible NCAA Tournament teams. Demetri McCamey has continued his dominance, and Mike Davis has stepped up again lately. (previously-ranked No. 1)

2. Northwestern (18-10): The Wildcats set a school record Thursday with its 18th win of the season. Northwestern was in control the entire night as it rolled to a 74-57 win over Iowa. Northwestern still can only finish at 9-9 in the conference and would need a deep Big Ten Tournament run to be considered for an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. (2)

3. Illinois State (21-8): The Redbirds have been on a roll in the last few weeks. They've won their last six games and are tied with Wichita State for second place in the Missouri Valley. They close out their regular season at Northern Iowa on Saturday. Dinma Odiakosa has been good for a double-double every game as of late. (3)

4. Bradley (15-13): The Braves have remained among the leaders in the Missouri Valley thanks to the play of Sam Maniscalco. He had 19 points and 10 assists in Bradley's latest win over Wichita State. The Braves travel to Creighton on Saturday for their final regular-season game. (4)

5. Southern Illinois (15-13): The Salukis added another nail-biter to their season as they lost by five in overtime to Creighton earlier this week. They've had 13 games decided by five points or loss this season, and they've lost eight of them. Kevin Dillard was missing in their last game with an injury. (5)

6. Loyola (14-14): The Ramblers have dropped plenty of close games this season as well. Their two-point loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee this week was their fifth conference loss decided by five points or less. Loyola hosts Wisconsin-Green Bay in its regular-season finale on Saturday. (7)

7. DePaul (8-19): The Blue Demons are looking for their second win under Tracy Webster. DePaul has lost its last nine games since beating Marquette. It does have a shot with another win in the coming weeks as its finishes its Big East schedule with Rutgers, South Florida and St. John's. Eric Wallace will miss the remainder of the season due to injury. (8)

8. Eastern Illinois (17-11): The Panthers have turned it on as of late. They've won their last six games, including a non-conference victory over Northern Illinois, and are tied for fourth place in the Ohio Valley. Tyler Laser had 19 points in their win over Northern Illinois. (10)

9. UIC (8-20): The Flames are playing the best they have all season. They've won their last two games and moved out of last place in the Horizon League. Robo Kreps, Zavion Neely and Jeremy Buttell combined for 58 points in their recent win over Wisconsin-Green Bay. (9)

10. Northern Illinois (9-18): The Huskies snapped their 10-game losing streak with a two-point win over Central Michigan on Wednesday. Jake Anderson had 23 points in the win. Toledo, which is winless in the MAC, is the only team with a worse record than Northern Illinois. (6)

11. Western Illinois (13-15): The Leathernecks had won four straight before losing this week to South Dakota State. Ceola Clark had 25 points in a recent win over Oral Roberts. Western Illinois closes out its regular season with North Dakota State. (11)

12. Chicago State (8-20): The Cougars received 20 points and 10 rebounds from Kabangu Kasamba to help them to a 71-61 win over North Dakota on Thursday. They'll play Northwestern next week. (12)

13. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (5-23): The Cougars finished their season with a 76-66 win over Hannibal-LaGrange on Thursday. Mark Yelovich had 28 points in the win. (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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