I was going to inaugurate our new weekly POLL WATCH post for hoops last week, but time got away from me. As it happens, though, this week is a much better week for us to begin such a feature, because this week happens to be mildly historic from an Iowa hoops standpoint. How so? Because the Iowa basketball team is ranked for the first time since the 2005-06 season, checking in at #25 in this week's USA Today Coaches Poll.
In case you've forgotten what was going on back then, Hawkeye Drive can fill you in:
Prior to Monday, Iowa’s last appearance in the Coaches Poll came in its final rankings following the 2006 NCAA Tournament, with the Hawkeyes being ranked 23rd at the time.
Unlike college football, of course, rankings in basketball don't determine your championship fate. They don't even determine your access into the tournament that will determine your championship fate (hello there, RPI). But they are useful ways to measure the status of a program and in this case getting ranked in the weekly polls is another checkpoint that Fran McCaffery has passed on his quest to bring Iowa basketball back from the abyss. Well done, Fran. Given Iowa's schedule this week (only a home game with Penn on Friday), Iowa should have a good opportunity to make this more than a one-week stay in the polls, too.
But before we get to the weekly poll that includes the Hawkeyes, let's take a quick look at the poll that doesn't include Iowa.
AP Poll, 11/18/13:
Iowa checks in at the unofficial #26 slot on the AP poll. They're tops in the "Others receiving votes" category, with 122 votes (22 behind Marquette, the #25 team in the poll). Two teams previously ranked in the top 25 lost last week and dropped from the rankings, Notre Dame and Virginia, which freed up two spots to previously unranked teams. Those spots were claimed by Iowa State (#21) and Creighton (#23). Iowa State notched one of the most impressive wins of the week on Sunday, toppling then-#7 Michigan in front of a raucous home crowd. Would Iowa have slipped into the AP Poll without that Cyclone win? It seems likely. Alas, Iowa will have to wait a little bit longer for their return to the AP Top 25.
USA Today Coaches Poll, 11/18/13:
|RANK||TEAM||RECORD||POINTS||FIRST PLACE VOTES||PREVIOUS RANK||CHANGE||HI/LOW*|
|1||Michigan State Spartans||3-0||789||22||2||1||1/2|
|6||Duke Blue Devils||2-1||630||4||2||4/6|
|8||Ohio State Buckeyes||3-0||597||9||1||8/10|
|9||Oklahoma State Cowboys||3-0||541||12||3||9/12|
|10||Virginia Commonwealth Rams||3-0||443||14||4||10/15|
|16||Wichita State Shockers||4-0||330||16||16/16|
|19||North Carolina Tar Heels||2-1||208||11||8||11/19|
|20||New Mexico Lobos||2-0||180||21||1||20/21|
Hark, a Hawkeye sighting! As noted above, Iowa checks in at #25 in this week's Coaches Poll, their first appearance in that poll (or any poll) since the end of the 2005-06 season.
Like the AP Poll, the Coaches Poll dropped Virginia and Notre Dame from their rankings. They also dropped Marquette, following their ugly loss to Ohio State on Saturday. That movement freed up room for Iowa to creep into the #25 spot with 74 points, 3 ahead of Marquette. The coaches were evidently less-impressed with Iowa State's win over Michigan as well; the Cyclones check in with the second-most points among the "Others receiving votes" category in this poll, with 49.