For the past few weeks, Illinois had been on the brink of cracking the Top 25.
On Monday, the Illini entered the AP college basketball poll for the first time this season, moving in as No. 23 in a week that saw the top four spots remain the same.Illinois (18-8) came into the Top 25 following a loss to Purdue that ended a seven-game winning streak that included a 21-point win over Michigan State.
North Carolina (26-1) was again the runaway No. 1 choice with 68 first-place votes and 1,748 points, 108 more than Duke (23-2). Arizona (22-3) had the other two No. 1 votes and 1,605 points, while Kansas (27-3) had 1,587 points.
Purdue (22-4), which beat Indiana and Illinois last week, moved up three spots to fifth and had 1,379 points.
Utah, Connecticut and Kentucky - all of whom lost one game last week - each dropped one spot to sixth, seventh and eighth, while Princeton moved up one place to ninth.
Stanford, which rebounded from losing three of four games with road wins over UCLA and Southern California last week, moved up four places to round out the Top Ten, the biggest jump of the week in the rankings.
New Mexico again led the Second Ten and was followed by UCLA, South Carolina, Michigan State, Mississippi, Arkansas, Cincinnati, Massachusetts, Texas Christian and West Virginia.
The last five were Syracuse, Michigan, Illinois, George Washington and Maryland.
Illinois is the sixth Big Ten team to be ranked this season, a total second only to the Atlantic Coast Conference's seven.