Following its third straight loss, a 68-54 defeat at the hands of Northwestern Thursday in Champaign, Illinois was dropped out of the latest AP top 25 rankings released Monday.
Under the leadership of first-year coach John Groce, the Fighting Illini got off to a promising 12-0 start this season, including a Top 10 ranking. Lately, however, they've been matching the play of last year's 17-15 team under Bruce Weber.
The Illini lost five of their last seven games and with No. 2 Michigan and No. 13 Michigan State coming up on the schedule, they risk extending this downward spiral.
The team's biggest issue lately has been a slump from beyond the arc. They've shot 11.9 percent on three pointers in their last three games and their defense has been outscored 226-172.
Related: Illini struggles defined by, but not limited to, three-pointers
Illinois may have a chance to redeem itself Tuesday on the road at Nebraska, which is only 1-5 in conference play.
CSN will have two quality college basketball matchups on Saturday as two Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge games will be featured live.
Bradley (4-3) has Nevada (6-2) in town for a 7 p.m. game Saturday on CSN while Illinois State (3-2) will host New Mexico (5-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday on CSN+.
The Braves have alternated wins and losses all season as they hope to build momentum off of a road win over Eastern Illinois.
Freshman guard Darrell Brown paces Bradley at 15.3 points per game on 48 percent three-point shooting while junior guard JoJo McGlaston is putting up 12.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest.
Nevada enters this one winning four of their last five games as senior guard Marcus Marshall is averaging 20.0 points and 3.9 assists per game. Sophomore forward Cameron Oliver has been generating some pro buzz as he's averaging 16.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while shooting 44 percent from three-point range.
In the second contest, Illinois State is hoping for a key non-conference win against a quality opponent. Senior forward Deontae Hawkins is doing some solid damage as he's averaging 16.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while junior forward MiKyle McIntosh is at 14.2 points and 7.2 rebounds a game.
Proviso East product Paris Lee is also having a good year at guard for Illinois State.
New Mexico is led by a former area product as Homewood-Flossmoor graduate Tim Williams is averaging 19.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game for the Lobos. Junior guard Elijah Brown, the son of former NBA coach Mike Brown, is also playing well for New Mexico as he's putting up 15.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
Northern Iowa looks to snap a two-game losing streak as they host George Mason tonight. You can catch this game live on CSN+ at 7 p.m.
The Panthers (3-2) have lost both games to Xavier as Northern Iowa matched up with the top-25 team for the title in the Tire Pros Invitational in Orlando before losing to them on the road less than a week later.
Northern Iowa does own some solid wins over Oklahoma and Arizona State as they're led by senior Jeremy Morgan, who is averaging 16.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game -- which all lead the team.
Junior forward Klint Carlson has also been strong for the Panthers as he's put up 12.2 points per game while shooting 44 percent from three-point range.
George Mason (3-2) has won three consecutive games -- with two of those wins coming by four points or less. The Patriots haven't played anyone as good as Northern Iowa yet as they beat Kent State, Bradley and James Madison.