(WCIA) — Illinois basketball has achieved their highest ranking in more than a decade. In week one Top-25 poll, the Illini moved up three spots from No.8 to No.5. The last time the Illini were ranked this high was when the team reached the national title game in 2005.
Other Big Ten teams are currently ranked in the Top-25, with Iowa and Wisconsin both ranked above the Illini, at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.
Before the season started, head coach Brad Underwood said he’s not running from expectations, but they’ve been trying to tune out the outside noise.
“We can’t listen to all the hoopla around the ranking, I do think our culture is in a good place,” says Underwood. “Now you’ve got to go from the hunter to the hunted and understand that the bullseye is on your back. How do you handle that?”
Last week, the Illini started the season 3-0, with wins over North Carolina A&T, Chicago State, and Ohio. The Illini beat the Aggies and the Cougars both by 50+ points, while battling with Ohio in a close 77-75 victory.
The Illini will face No. 2 Baylor on Wednesday in Indianapolis at the Jimmy V. Classic. Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. CT.