By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Staff Writer
January 9, 2023
(Cover photo courtesy Illinois Athletics)
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- For the first time in 23 years, the Illinois women's basketball program will have a ranked number beside its name. Illinois Illinois was ranked No. 24 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll released on Monday afternoon marking the first time the Illini have been in the poll since the week of Nov. 27-Dec. 3, 2000.
Illinois (14-3, 4-2 in Big Ten Conference) finished this past week splitting its conference games including a 85-79 home win against Northwestern last Thursday night followed by an 87-81 loss at No. 3 Ohio State on Sunday in a game which the Illini led by 17 points early in the third quarter. The loss in Columbus snapped the Illini's seven-game winning streak, their second stretch of that length this season.
Illinois first-year head coach Shauna Green joins Theresa Grentz, Laura Golden and Jane Schroeder as the only Illini coaches in program history to lead a ranked squad in Champaign. Green is the lone coach to achieve a Top-25 ranking in her first year leading the program.
Illinois’ three losses this season are by a combined 13 points. Two of those losses came to Top-5 Big Ten Conference foes. Illinois is off to the best start in Big Ten play since 2012-13 - a 6-3 start.
Illinois is one of six Big Ten Conference programs ranked in this week’s AP poll including three in the top nine (Ohio State 3, Indiana 6, Maryland 9, Iowa 12, Michigan 17 and Illinois at 24).
Illinois’ first game as a ranked program will not come until Sunday’s 2 p.m. tip at Minnesota inside historic Williams Arena. The Gophers (8-8, 1-4), suffered a 81-77 loss to Wisconsin in Madison this past Sunday afternoon.
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