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Iowa Basketball: Hawkeyes Ranked 5th Nationally by AP

Preseason polls are never wrong.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Iowa
Fran McCaffery has a preseason top-5 team.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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:

  1. Gonzaga*
  2. Baylor
  3. Villanova
  4. Virginia
  5. Iowa
  6. Kansas
  7. Wisconsin*
  8. Illinois*
  9. Duke
  10. Kentucky
  11. Creighton
  12. Tennessee
  13. Michigan State*
  14. Texas Tech
  15. West Virginia
  16. North Carolina*
  17. Houston
  18. Arizona State
  19. Texas
  20. Oregon
  21. Florida State
  22. UCLA
  23. Ohio State*
  24. Rutgers*
  25. Michigan*

*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.