Monday morning arrived today, and with it came the newly released AP Top 25 poll. While this announcement in itself was no surprise, something else relating to it did come as a bit of a shock.
The Iowa basketball team found itself still amongst those programs listed.
Is Iowa (20-9, 9-7 Big Ten) Top 25 good? In my opinion, the Hawkeyes absolutely are. Have they played like it recently? Hardly.
Prior to a closer-than-necessary home win yesterday against the Purdue Boilermakers, Iowa had dropped three straight contests, including twice in the time since the previous AP poll was released on February 24. Now had the Hawkeyes been sitting firmly within say the top 10-15 teams in the polls heading into last week, it would have been fairly understandable to see them remain ranked. However, that definitely wasn’t the case.
Iowa carried a number 20 ranking next to it heading into its aforementioned 1-2 skid over the past six days. Teams sitting that close to the cut line of the rankings can rarely afford to lose twice in a week, pick up a win over a pedestrian squad like Purdue, and yet still find themselves included in the next edition of the polls.
So what the heck happened?
To put it as bluntly as possible, quite a few teams near Iowa in the polls effectively wet the bed last week.
Not only is that little analogy a lot of fun to use, but few others would aptly serve to describe the performances of multiple teams in and around the Top 25 in recent days. In essence, Hawkeye fans should be thanking their lucky stars that some premier schools got a taste of the same losing medicine that Iowa has recently been fed.
Taking a trip down south to Big 12 country, previous no. 24 Texas went 1-1, but dropped a weekend road rivalry game to Oklahoma that caused the Longhorns to fall out of the rankings.
Meanwhile closer to home, Big 10 foe and 22nd ranked Ohio State fell flat on its face against the likes of Penn State and Indiana, hardly a recipe for appealing to poll voters before the release of this week’s ballot. Suffice to say the Buckeyes joined the land of the unranked with Texas today.
Despite the ample contributions of the two previously mentioned schools, the most truly charitable institution was Kentucky. Coach John Calipari and Co. graciously threw up on themselves with two humiliating losses. The first, at home to the tentative NCAA bubble resident Arkansas Razorbacks, and the second at woeful SEC cellar dweller 11-18 South Carolina. Though by some saving grace they managed to hold onto the 25th and final spot in the today’s poll, the Wildcats plummeted from 17th (three spots ahead of Iowa) to their current position one behind the Hawkeyes.
With all of the carnage that occurred around Iowa this past week, Iowa City should darn near be rejoicing today.
In the end only Oklahoma and Connecticut were new additions to the rankings, and Iowa would only fall behind them and existing poll members Memphis and New Mexico. Things could have gone much worse for the now 24th ranked Hawkeyes.
Who knows? Maybe this is a sign that Iowa’s turbulent stretch is finally coming to an end.
If that’s the case, Hawkeye fans have plenty of thanks to give to Texas, Ohio State, Kentucky, and most of all some awfully forgiving AP voters.