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Iowa Basketball: Hawkeyes Climb in Polls After Wins Over Rutgers, Michigan State

Iowa ran the table last week, which is more than a number of top-15 could say.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Iowa
Luka Garza didn’t need to contribute much on Saturday as the Hawkeyes pummeled Michigan State.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes finally got back into the win column with a double-digit win over then #25 Rutgers last Wednesday. That officially turned into a winning streak when the Hawkeyes traveled to East Lansing and handed the Michigan State Spartans their worst home loss in the Tom Izzo era.

The pair of wins last week marked the first time Iowa has gone undefeated in a week since the first week in January. It’s also the first time Iowa has won two or more games in a row since that time, when they rattled off five wins straight.

The first successful week in more than a month means Iowa has their first real movement upwards in the national polls in almost as long. The AP released their updated poll on Monday and Iowa was up four spots to 11th nationally. This a week after falling seven spots to 15th, marking the first time all season the Hawkeyes were outside the top-10 in the nation.

Here’s a look at this week’s full poll:

  1. Gonzaga (59)
  2. Baylor (5)
  3. Michigan
  4. Ohio State
  5. Illinois
  6. Houston
  7. Virginia
  8. Alabama
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Villanova
  11. Iowa
  12. Texas
  13. West Virginia
  14. Creighton
  15. Texas Tech
  16. Florida State
  17. USC
  18. Virginia Tech
  19. Tennessee
  20. Missouri
  21. Wisconsin
  22. Loyola Chicago
  23. Kansas
  24. Arkansas
  25. San Diego State

Iowa’s jump of four spots this week was the second most of any team in the nation. It was topped only by Creighton, which climbed five spots after taking down ten #5 Villanova on Saturday. Interestingly, over in the Coaches Poll, that was enough for the Bluejays to jump Iowa. The Hawkeyes climbed just two spots to #14 in that poll.

More broadly, the Big Ten remains head and shoulders above every other conference in America. Again we find three Big Ten teams inside the top-5 in the nation with Michigan remaining at #3 after taking down Wisconsin on Sunday. Ohio State is unchanged at #4 while Illinois climbed a spot to #5 after the loss by Villanova (it is worth noting the Fighting Illini were lucky to escape Lincoln with a win, but they climb a spot nonetheless). Beyond the top-5, however, it was a bit of a rough week in the conference. Iowa comes in at 11 as noted, but Wisconsin is the only other Big Ten team still in the ranks this week after Rutgers and Purdue both fell out.

With just five teams in the rankings this week, the conference has hit its low water mark on the year. For the first time this season another conference actually has more teams ranked as the Big 12 got six teams in. Baylor, of course, is still #2. Oklahoma is the other Big 12 team in the top-10 at #9. Texas comes in at #12, followed closely by #13 West Virginia. Texas Tech is also in the top-15 at #15. Kansas rounds things out by climbing back in to the top-25 at #23 this week thanks to - checks notes - a pair of wins over 2-14 Iowa State. Life’s good when you’re a blueblood.

Over in the advanced metrics, Iowa got some credit for their improved defense last week. The Hawkeyes moved up one spot in KenPom to #4 in the nation, thanks in part to a climb of more than 30 spots in adjusted defensive efficiency. In Sagarin, Iowa also comes in at #4 after falling to 6th last week.

The Hawkeyes are back in action this Thursday in their next big test. Iowa will travel to #21 Wisconsin looking for their NCAA-leading 6th win over a top-25 team. That’s a 6pm tip on ESPN.