Illinois ranked 23rd in AP poll

By Shannon Ryan

It’s not that Illinois has avoided talking about the rankings. It’s just that the discussion focused on how to avoid allowing them to become an issue.

“We’ve talked a lot about that,” coach John Groce said on Monday’s Big Ten coaches teleconference. “We’re not caught up in all that stuff.”

He will see this week.

The Illini (13-2, 2-0) appeared in the Associated Press poll for the first time this season at No. 23. The last time they were ranked was January 2013, subsequently falling out of the top 25 with consecutive losses to Wisconsin and Northwestern.

The Illini play in Madison against the unbeaten Badgers on Wednesday and follow that with a game Sunday in Evanston against the Wildcats.

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Illinois achieved its ranking after home victories against Indiana and Penn State to start the Big Ten season.

“One of their goals was not the end-all for us to be ranked,” Groce said. “That’s more a byproduct of what they’ve done.”