Iowa being ranked in this week's polls didn't seem very likely after they got mauled by Michigan State last Monday, their second straight loss after beginning the season 6-0. But Iowa rebounded from that ugly loss in East Lansing with one of their best performances of the season, drilling a good Iowa State team 98-84 in Iowa City last Thursday. ISU wasn't ranked, but they were right outside the Top 25 in both polls.
That win, plus the lingering goodwill from Iowa's wins at the 2K Classic last month, kept Iowa in the latest polls. They're #22 in the new AP Poll and #21 in the new Coaches Poll. Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't acknowledge that one of the things keeping Iowa ranked is poll logic.
Iowa jumped into the Top 25 polls after their wins over Oregon and UConn at the 2KClassic. Those wins came against teams that were at the time undefeated. Oregon was expected to be a very good team this year (they were ranked #13 when Iowa played them) and UConn played Iowa fresh off a big win over Syracuse (also perceived to be very good; they were ranked #15 when UConn beat them). Iowa then jumped to #14 in the rankings when several teams ahead of them lost; since then they've gone 2-2. As we know, as long as you keep winning, it's difficult to fall out of the polls.
But would Iowa be ranked now if they hadn't gotten that early boost from the 2K Classic? Maybe, maybe not. Oregon is presently 5-3, unranked (and not receiving any votes), and has a loss to Texas Southern on their resume. UConn is 7-3; their big win, Syracuse, is currently 7-2 and either tied for #25 or also receiving votes, depending on the poll. One of Iowa's other notable non-conference wins came against Pitt; they're 7-3 and lost to Niagra last week. Iowa's best non-conference win of the season is Iowa State (currently 8-2), but because they got blasted by Iowa last week they're barely receiving votes.
KenPom has Iowa at 38th right now. Coincidentally, #38 is also where Iowa ranks in ESPN's BPI and strentgh of schedule rankings. If the first polls of the season were made today, with all the results of the past six weeks taken into account, would Iowa be ranked #22 -- or would they be ranked closer to #38? My guess is the latter.
But they are ranked and whether or not that ranking is wholly deserved, it's certainly a cool thing. It's good publicity for the program and the players, which is a positive thing. Given the state of Iowa's remaining non-league schedule, they could stay in the ranks of the Top 25 for a while longer if they take care of business. This is certainly a hell of a lot more fun than hoops was a year ago, when several early season losses put Iowa well behind the eightball before Big Ten season even fully began. Let's just enjoy the ride for now.