Just keep winning. The surest way to stay ranked in the AP and Coaches Poll Top 25 rankings is to continue winning, which is precisely what Iowa did last week in edging past Penn State on the road and torching Illinois at home. Those wins improved Iowa's record to 16-3 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten, good for fifth place in the league as we near the halfway point.
Wins over Penn State and Illinois, who are a combined 12-25 overall and 1-14 in Big Ten play, may not move the needle much, but they're wins. With chaos all around college basketball last week (especially in the Top 10, where several teams lost), simply logging wins was a good way to stay ranked. Iowa didn't just remain in the rankings, either -- they moved up. Iowa went up four slots to #19 in the new AP Poll, while they moved up three spots to #21 in the new Coaches Poll. Iowa also moved up to 25th in the latest KenPom rankings, their highest placement of the year there.
Iowa's rise in the rankings means their next game will be a Top 20 clash: #19 Iowa hosting #6 Michigan State on Thursday night in Iowa City (6 PM CT, FS1). That will actually be the second of two ranked vs ranked matchups for MSU this week; they host #13 Maryland in a game tonight (5:30 PM CT, FS1). They also plat at Purdue next Sunday; big, big week for Sparty.
Iowa, Michigan State, and Maryland are three of the four Big Ten teams in the Top 25 rankings this week. The AP Poll includes Michigan (#5), Michigan State (#6), Maryland (#13), and Iowa (#19), while the Coaches Poll has the same foursome in a slightly different order: Michigan State (#5), Michigan (#6), Maryland (#16), and Iowa (#21). The Big Ten is down to four teams in the rankings because the league's middle class continues to cannibalize itself. Indiana and Ohio State are both in the midst of four-game losing streaks that have seen them go from comfortably ranked to no longer receiving votes in the AP Poll. Wisconsin recorded a big win over Michigan last week but also lost to Maryland is just 12-6 overall; they are among the Others Receiving Votes category in both polls, though. Ditto Purdue, who's riding a three-game winning streak and thrashed Rutgers and Indiana last week; they're 27th in the AP Poll and 30th in the Coaches Poll. Nebraska is also lurking out there after splitting games with Indiana and Michigan State last week; they're 29th in the AP Poll and 28th in the Coaches Poll.
KenPom continues to think very highly of the Big Ten -- it's still the highest-ranked conference in the nation there, with six teams ranked in the Top 17 (#3 Michigan State, #6 Michigan, #9 Purdue, #12 Nebraska, #15 Wisconsin, and #17 Maryland). Twelve of the league's 14 teams are within the Top 66 on KenPom; only Illinois (#93) and Rutgers (#124) are outside that parameter. The Big Ten grinds on.