POLL WATCH: Iowa Cracks the Top 25 in the Coaches Poll

Matthew Holst

WE'RE BAAAACK (in the polls)

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:

Rank Team Record Votes Previous
1 Michigan State 3-0 1,608 2
2 Kansas 2-0 1,523 5
3 Louisville 3-0 1,511 3
4 Kentucky 3-1 1,410 1
5 Arizona 3-0 1,339 6
6 Duke 2-1 1,320 4
7 Oklahoma State 3-0 1,198 8
8 Ohio State 3-0 1,172 10
9 Syracuse 3-0 1,135 9
10 VCU 3-0 928 14
11 Memphis 1-0 871 13
12 Wisconsin 3-0 763 20
13 Gonzaga 3-0 710 15
14 Wichita State 4-0 705 16
14 Michigan 2-1 705 7
16 Florida 2-1 619 11
17 Oregon 2-0 613 18
18 Connecticut 4-0 600 19
19 New Mexico 2-0 353 22
20 Baylor 3-0 342 23
21 Iowa State 3-0 296 NR
22 UCLA 2-0 291 24
23 Creighton 3-0 246 NR
24 North Carolina 2-1 213 12
25 Marquette 2-1 144 17

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
2 Louisville Cardinals 3-0 761 8 3 1 2/3
3 Kansas Jayhawks 2-0 735 2 6 3 3/6
4 Arizona Wildcats 3-0 684 5 1 4/5
5 Kentucky Wildcats 3-1 658 1 4 1/5
6 Duke Blue Devils 2-1 630 4 2 4/6
7 Syracuse Orange 3-0 601 7 7/7
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
11 Memphis Tigers 1-0 404 13 2 11/13
12 Gonzaga Bulldogs 3-0 381 15 3 12/15
13 Michigan Wolverines 2-1 362 8 5 8/13
14 Florida Gators 2-1 359 10 4 8/14
15 Wisconsin Badgers 3-0 332 19 4 15/21
16 Wichita State Shockers 4-0 330 16 16/16
17 Oregon Ducks 2-0 275 18 1 17/18
18 Connecticut Huskies 4-0 265 20 2 18/20
19 North Carolina Tar Heels 2-1 208 11 8 11/19
20 New Mexico Lobos 2-0 180 21 1 20/21
21 Baylor Bears 3-0 131 25 4 21/NR
22 Indiana Hoosiers 4-0 129 23 1 22/24
23 Creighton Bluejays 3-0 111 NR 23/NR
24 UCLA Bruins 2-0 105 24 23/24
25 Iowa Hawkeyes 4-0 74 NR 25

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.

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