We knew coming into this season the Iowa Hawkeye would be receiving as much hype as we’ve seen in a generation. Luka Garza is back for his senior season after the best season in program history a year ago. He’s surrounded by loads of talent and the questions about this team are largely regarding Fran McCaffery’s ability to utilize everyone to their maximum potential.
Earlier today we saw Garza and teammate Joe Wieskamp named to the Preseason All-Big Ten Team. Just hours later, the AP released their preseason rankings with the Hawkeyes in the top-5 nationally.
FIRST AP POLL— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) November 9, 2020
Debuting at #5 in the nation, this marks the highest Iowa has been ranked in the preseason since the 1955 Hawkeyes debuted at #4. That team, featuring greats such as Bill Logan, Sharm Scheuerman, Bill Seaberg, Carl Cain and others, won their second straight Big Ten title and made a second consecutive trip to the Final Four finishing the season ranked 4th nationally as well.
This is the first time Iowa has entered the season inside the top-10 nationally since the 2001-2002 Hawkeyes were ranked 9th in the preseason. That team ultimately finished the year ranked 24th nationally with a second round loss to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament.
This season is sure to be different than either of those given the revised scheduling and potential for missed games throughout the year due to COVID-19. Regardless, this is an Iowa basketball team with as much hype as we’ve seen in quite some time.
Here’s a look at the full AP top-25 heading into the 2020-2021 season:
- Michigan State*
- Texas Tech
- West Virginia
- North Carolina*
- Arizona State
- Florida State
- Ohio State*
*Confirmed Iowa opponents in bold.
The Big Ten is slated to once again be the nation’s top conference. A full seven of the conference’s 14 teams are ranked inside the top-25 with Indiana also receiving votes. Iowa is the top-ranked team in the conference at #5, but the Big Ten has three of the nation’s top-10 teams with Wisconsin and Illinois also cracking the list.
While we don’t yet have a finalized schedule for the Hawkeyes, it is slated to be one of the most difficult in recent memory. Iowa is set to play host to #16 North Carolina in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on December 8th. They will also take on #1 Gonzaga at the Pentagon in Sioux Falls on December 19th before getting into a Big Ten slate that will feature at least one matchup with each of the six other ranked Big Ten teams above. In total, that marks a minimum of three matchups with top-10 teams and a minimum of 8 games against top-25 teams.
Buckle up, it’s going to be one heck of a ride.