Three Iowa women's basketball programs ranked in AP poll for first time since 1998
The state of Iowa is making plenty of noise in the latest Associated Press women’s basketball poll.
Three of the state’s four Division I schools cracked the Week 4 rankings: the Hawkeyes at No. 14, Iowa State at No. 23 and Drake at No. 24. Iowa dropped two spots after going 1-1 at the Junkanoo Jam, while the Cyclones and Bulldogs entered for the first time this season.
Drake was last ranked in the final AP poll of the 2016-17 season, at No. 20. Iowa State is back in the poll for the first time since Jan. 27, 2014.
The state hasn't had three ranked teams since the final poll in 1998, which had Drake — then led by current Iowa coach Lisa Bluder — at No. 22, the Hawkeyes at No. 23 and Iowa State 24th.
All three programs are off to strong starts in 2018. The Hawkeyes are 4-1 with an improbable comeback win over then-No. 20 West Virginia. Iowa will have a chance to do even more damage Thursday at No. 1 Notre Dame.
Iowa State is 5-0 with a Preseason WNIT title, having won four games in nine days to start the year. Drake (6-1) made plenty of waves with a strong showing at the Vancouver Showcase, picking up two more Power Five wins. The Bulldogs have toppled Nebraska, Rutgers and South Carolina, while also hanging tough with the top-ranked Fighting Irish into the fourth quarter.
State bragging rights will get sorted out in the coming weeks. Iowa hosts Iowa State on Dec. 5 and travels to Drake on Dec. 21. The Bulldogs come to Ames on Dec. 16.
"I love the state of Iowa in terms of basketball quality because one, I think we have great teams," Drake coach Jennie Baranczyk told reporters Monday. "I think we have great Division I programs in this state in both men’s and women’s basketball.
"I also think we have such an educated fan base that people come out to watch it. So I think that’s something that’s very distinct. We not only support our local teams because we just support athletics and local teams, but we’re very educated fans. And I think that’s something that’s very unique to our state."
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.