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Iowa Basketball: Hawkeyes Re-enter Top-10 After Win Streak

Iowa is one of four Big Ten teams in the top-10 nationally this week.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Iowa
How high can the Hawkeyes climb by season’s end?
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes struggled at times in their Sunday win over Penn State, particularly when the pressure started to mount on Luka Garza to get that final bucket to become Iowa’s all-time leading scorer. But in the end, Garza got the record and the flood gates opened. As a result, the Hawkeyes enter this week riding a four-game winning streak.

They now enter the most pivotal stretch of the season for them and everyone else in the hunt for the Big Ten title. But they’ll do so while ranked inside the top-10 nationally for the first time in three weeks after the AP released their latest poll on Monday.

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

  1. Gonzaga (60)
  2. Baylor (4)
  3. Michigan
  4. Ohio State
  5. Illinois
  6. Alabama
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Villanova
  9. Iowa
  10. West Virginia
  11. Florida State
  12. Houston
  13. Creighton
  14. Texas
  15. Virginia
  16. Virginia Tech
  17. Kansas
  18. Texas Tech
  19. USC
  20. Arkansas
  21. Loyola Chicago
  22. San Diego State
  23. Wisconsin
  24. Missouri
  25. Tennessee

Iowa jumps two spots this week after winning at then #21 Wisconsin and at home against unranked Penn State. That comes as Houston and Virginia fall out of the top-10 after one and two losses on the week respectively.

With the Hawkeyes back in the top-10, the Big Ten now has four teams there. That includes #3 Michigan and #4 Ohio State, which didn’t budge after losing at home to the Wolverines. Illinois remains at #5 after beating Northwestern and Minnesota.

Wisconsin remains the only other Big Ten team ranked this week. They fall two spots to #23 after the loss to Iowa. Purdue continues to get no respect despite sitting ahead of Wisconsin in the Big Ten standings and pushing for a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament.

Over in the Coaches Poll, Iowa remains laughably underrated at #12, behind the likes of Florida State, Houston and Creighton. Oklahoma is the other head-scratcher in the top-10 of both the Coaches and AP polls. They come in at 8 and 7 respectively in those polls despite being 19th in the NCAA’s NET rankings and 26th in KenPom.

For their part, Iowa remains at #4 in KenPom and Sagarin. They’re still at 5th in the NCAA’s NET rankings (although those are apparently meaningless if the NCAA themselves didn’t use them or the other advanced metrics when putting out their initial seedings a week ago). Most notably, however, Iowa’s adjusted defensive efficiency has climbed roughly 60 spots in KenPom’s ranks to 74th nationally. That isn’t great, but when you have the top offense it doesn’t need to be. For perspective, it’s 12 spots ahead of Ohio State, who Iowa plays on Sunday in a game with immense implications for NCAA tournament seeding and Big Ten standings.

The Hawkeyes are back in action this Thursday to kick off a week that will decide their fate this season. Iowa still has an outside (as in way outside) shot at the regular season Big Ten title, but more importantly they are in position to get a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament. But they’ll need to take care of business down the stretch after facing off with conference leader #3 Michigan on Thursday and #4 Ohio State on Sunday.

Thursday’s contest tips off at 6pm and will be broadcast on ESPN. Get your popcorn ready.