Fresh off three straight wins, including back-to-back wins over Iowa State (on the road) and Cincinnati (on a neutral court), Iowa basketball is in uncharted territory for the 2019-20 season: the Top 25 rankings. Iowa entered the AP Top 25 at #25 in Monday's new poll.
|2||Ohio State (9)||11-1||1520|
|15||San Diego State||12-0||763|
Iowa isn't ranked in the new Coaches Poll, but they are the top team in the Others Receiving Votes category, so if you want to consider them the #26 team in that poll, go for it. This is the first time Iowa has been ranked in the AP Poll since the February 25 poll last season when they were 21-6. Iowa spent most of the 2018-19 season in the Top 25 last year after their breakthrough wins over Oregon and UConn at the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden, though they fell out of the rankings after a late season swoon that saw them lose five of their last six games, including their last four in a row to end the regular season.
Iowa didn't receive much preseason rankings consideration after the early departures of Tyler Cook and Isaiah Moss and the graduation of Nicholas Baer and they were far off the rankings radar when they got dominated by DePaul in the second game of the season. I won't lie: after that game I didn't expect Iowa to be in consideration for the Top 25 this season and certainly not before Christmas. I thought Iowa might struggle to be .500 after that game. But as we've seen over the last six months, Iowa is a much better team than what they showed against DePaul. They've going 8-2 since that loss, with their only losses coming on a neutral court against San Diego State (undefeated and #15 in these rankings) and on the road against Michigan (ranked #11 this week). No shame in those defeats. Their wins include victories over Texas Tech (currently #23) and solid Syracuse, Iowa State, and Cincinnati teams on road (or neutral) courts. That's a quality resume and one that makes Iowa's spot in the Top 25 look deserved.
Retaining that spot over the next few weeks won't be easy -- after finishing out the non-conference slate against creampuff Kennesaw State next weekend, Iowa will open Big Ten play with a neutral court game against Penn State (currently #20), a road game at Nebraska (Nebraska is bad, but visiting teams are just 1-13 in Big Ten play so far this season), and a home game against Maryland (currently #13). But those are games to worry about in a few weeks; for now, let's just sit back and enjoy the fact that Iowa basketball is playing really well so far this year -- and off to a much better start than many of us imagined was possible a few months ago.