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Iowa Basketball: Hawkeyes Fall From National Polls

The Hawkeyes have fallen from the polls, but remain in a good spot with the NCAA’s NET rankings and KenPom’s predictive analytics.

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NCAA Basketball: Kennesaw State at Iowa
Iowa’s loss to Penn State cost them a spot in the top 25 this week.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa’s 89-86 loss to Penn State at the Palestra on Saturday was a tough one. The Hawkeyes fought hard, but a mix of turnovers, missed free throws and utter exhaustion following a slew of injuries left them short of another neutral site win to add to their resume.

The loss stings as it was a missed opportunity to steal a “road” win in the Big Ten, and against a top-25 opponent no less. It leaves Iowa 1-2 in the conference. It also knocked the Hawkeyes out of the top-25, which they had begun to start climbing.

In the AP, Iowa entered the contest at #23 nationally, with Penn State at #21. The loss dropped Iowa from the rankings entirely this week while Penn State jumped up one spot to #20. The Hawkeyes were the first team outside the top-25, receiving 63 votes compared to #25 Colorado’s 81.

Here’s the full rankings:

  1. Gonzaga
  2. Duke
  3. Kansas
  4. Baylor
  5. Auburn
  6. Butler
  7. San Diego State
  8. Michigan State
  9. Oregon
  10. Florida State
  11. Ohio State
  12. Maryland
  13. Louisville
  14. Kentucky
  15. Dayton
  16. Villanova
  17. West Virginia
  18. Virginia
  19. Michigan
  20. Penn State
  21. Memphis
  22. Texas Tech
  23. Wichita State
  24. Arizona
  25. Colorado

In the Coaches Poll, Iowa had entered the contest at #25, being ranked for the first time all year. The loss dropped them here as well. Unlike the AP, however, Iowa is the second team out with Seton Hall making an appearance in the top 25.

Here’s the full poll:

  1. Gonzaga
  2. Duke
  3. Kansas
  4. Baylor
  5. Auburn
  6. Butler
  7. San Diego State
  8. Michigan State
  9. Oregon
  10. Florida State
  11. Louisville
  12. Ohio State
  13. Kentucky
  14. Maryland
  15. Dayton
  16. Villanova
  17. West Virginia
  18. Virginia
  19. Michigan
  20. Penn State
  21. Texas Tech
  22. Memphis
  23. Wichita State
  24. Arizona
  25. Seton Hall

It’s still obviously very early in the year and the polls at this point mean little. The thing to keep an eye on for Iowa is the NET rankings. These are the official rankings the selection committee will use come March.

Fortunately, there’s a handy website that not only tracks the NET rankings, but also publishes updated team sheets - the same ones the selection committee will be looking at when they make their decisions.

Taking a look at Iowa’s team sheet as of today, things are looking pretty good. The Hawkeyes come in at #33 ahead of their contest in Lincoln. They’re 1-3 in quadrant 1, which is a big part of the selection criteria. Those three losses have come to #7 San Diego State, #19 Michigan and #20 Penn State with the one win against #22 Texas Tech (in the AP).

Iowa’s NET team sheet is still in great shape.
Image via http://warrennolan.com/

One thing to keep an eye on is the performance of DePaul. The early loss to the Blue Demons seemed to spell doom for this season. Then the Hawkeyes seemed to have the light switch go on and DePaul looked like they might be good. Since then, they’ve had losses to Buffalo, Seton Hall and Providence. That’s dropped them all the way to 78 in the NET rankings. Given that was a home loss for Iowa, it’s sitting in Quadrant 3. That’s not ideal, though not as bad as a Quadrant 4 loss. The Hawkeyes need DePaul to get back in the win column.

One last metric to monitor is Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. KenPom uses advanced analytics to put together a predictive ranking. There, Iowa is currently #20 with the #2 adjusted offense in the country and the #96 adjusted defense. KenPom projects Iowa to finish the year 20-11 and 11-9 in the Big Ten. That should be plenty good to get them into the NCAA Tournament.

Another step down that path would be a road win at Nebraska tonight.