CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois basketball is up four spots in this week’s AP Top 25 to No. 19 in the country. It’s the highest ranking of the season so far for the Illini (2-0) who opened at No. 23 in the polls.
Illinois tips off its biggest week to date tonight hosting Monmouth (0-2) at State Farm Center for an 8 p.m. start on BTN. The team leaves for Las Vegas on Wednesday where it will face two ranked teams in the Continental Tire Main Event, starting with No. 8 UCLA on Friday night at 8:30 p.m. CT. The four-team event also features No. 5 Baylor and No. 16 Virginia, with the Illini facing one of the two teams on Sunday at T-Mobile Arena.
Before the Illini get to the desert though, they face a Monmouth team that on paper shouldn’t present too many challenges. Playing its third straight home game to open the season, the Illini are coming off a 38-point win over Kansas City last Friday.
“Just shy of a 1.2 OER, Offensive Efficiency Rating, with that 1-for-18 start,” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said about the win over the Roos. “You know, we didn’t crack the defense. When we touched the paint, a lot of good things happened. Defensively we were fine to start the game, it was just the offensive end.”
“I think we showed a lot of the teams, we showed what we can do,” Illinois freshman guard Skyy Clark said. “And we still have some things to work on obviously but I think as the year progresses we’re going to be a lot better.”