Illinois Men’s Basketball Team, Highest Ranking Since 2005

Despite competing during a global pandemic and without Illini fans in attendance, the Illinois Men’s Basketball team has been ranked №4 by the Associated Press (AP) as the season draws to a close.

This is the highest the team has been ranked since the 2004–05 season, when that Illini team made it all the way to the NCAA Championship game. Unfortunately, the 2005 team lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels but does this year’s squad have what it takes to win it all this year?

The 2005 Fighting Illini, led by Dee Brown, Deron Williams, and Luther Head went 15–1 in conference that year and was ranked №1 by the AP. They were upset by the №2 Tar Heels, but the three players that led the way for the Illini was drafted to the NBA. The Illini have not hit the top five in ranking until this season.

This year All-American, Ayo Dosunmu, has led the way for the Fighting Illini, averaging 21 points per game. His teammate, Kofi Cockburn, is contributing 17 points per game. This duos performance last season led the AP to rank the Illini №8 prior to this season. With a dominate season, currently with 18 wins and 6 losses overall, the AP moved Illinois in it’s mid-season poll to №4 earlier this morning.

This is the final week of conference play in the Big Ten and the Illini face the biggest competitor Tuesday evening, at Michigan Wolverines. The Wolverines have only lost one game this season and sit №1 in the conference. They also haven’t lost a game at home or to any Big Ten opponent this season. The Illini are right behind in second with only four loses this season.

This is the first time the Wolverines and the Fighting Illini will face each other this season. They will close the regular season this Saturday at Ohio State.



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