CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — “Every time I have ever been here it gives me goosebumps,” Pam Bowers said.

That continued as women’s basketball fans like john and pam bowers waited eagerly to get into the state farm center. They were excited for the matchup, but this game was extra special.

“It excites me because it’s a date night, so I get to go out with my husband and root on the girls,” Bowers said.

More than 5,500 people packed the arena, the second biggest crowd of the season.

Excitement surrounding the team has been growing. The Illini cracked the Top 25 on January 9th for the first time in more than 8,000 days.

Alan Kurtz has been cheering on the Illini for years and his son is an alumni.

“In one year the turnaround has been extraordinary, I mean the place is packed, they didn’t show up last year because they’re showing up this year and I think it’s fantastic to have this crowd,” Kurtz said.

The team’s popularity is even bringing in new fans.

“Well this is my first time here for ladies basketball,” Marcy Bobell said.

“They’re just doing so well, I’m just so happy for them and the guys but the girls need the recognition and I like it a lot,” Deborah Bobell said.

We asked Kurtz what it was like to look out and see a sea of orange.

“It shows that the crowd is really in to it and they want to be part of the community and part of the Illini,” Kurtz said.