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Good Morning, Illini Nation: Topsy turvy ride as ranked team continues

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Welcome to "Good Morning, Illini Nation," your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He'll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood's team and college basketball at large:

There was really no other outcome for Illinois in this week's poll once Saturday's 88-80 loss at Michigan State became final. A slide from No. 10 to No. 14 was coming once the latest Associated Press Top 25 dropped early Monday afternoon.

Because it had to happen. Illinois has vacillated between No. 10 and No. 14 for six weeks now. A certain (insane) segment of the population was adamant the Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl win was rigged, but this is the real script. The Illini can only be ranked 10th or 14th this season.

Landing back at No. 14 was reasonable, though. Illinois' loss was far from the only one last week by a ranked team. Seventeen others dropped at least one game, including double loser Wisconsin, which managed to stay ranked at No. 20 despite losing four straight games. Full on swoon territory.

Illinois might have missed a golden opportunity at another Quad I win on Saturday in East Lansing, Mich., but still favorable advanced metrics and simply spending last week in the top 10 kept the Illini in the middle of the AP Top 25 pack.

Not unanimously, though. Illinois appeared on 60 of 61 ballots this week, with the Raleigh (N.C.) Spectrum News' JB Ricks dropping the Illini from 11th last week to completely off his ballot. A ballot that has Florida Atlantic at 11th this week and also includes Kentucky, Memphis, South Florida and UNC Wilmington.

Indefensible choices, really.

Kentucky has been a mess at home and has its first three-game losing streak at Rupp Arena since it opened in 1976. Memphis lost four straight to end January and hasn't really changed its narrative with wins against Wichita State, Temple and Tulane. And while South Florida leads the American Athletic Conference, the Bulls have two Quad IV losses. UNC Wilmington beat Kentucky two months ago, and that's really all to be said about a team with three Quad III losses.

Along with falling off Ricks' ballot, Illinois ran the voting gamut this week. CBS Sports' Seth Davis had the Illini at No. 9 and at least one vote at Nos. 10-17, 20 and 23. Not all that different from the spread of votes they've received all season, as voters try to balance those still favorable metrics and an overall résumé that has three Quad I wins, a 7-5 record in the first two quadrants and that Quad III home loss to Maryland.

What's now Illinois' biweekly four-spot drop in this week's AP Top 25 was matched by North Carolina (down to No. 7) and Florida Atlantic (down to No. 24) and topped by Kentucky (down five to No. 22) and Wisconsin (down nine to No. 20). The big risers were Iowa State and South Carolina, which both climbed four spots in this week's poll to Nos. 10 and 11, respectively.