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Iowa men cling to top-25 ranking in final polls before NCAA Tournament bracket reveal

Danny Lawhon
Hawk Central

Conventional wisdom has concluded that conference championship week normally doesn't mean all that much for teams safely in the NCAA Tournament.

But this is far from a conventional year in men's college basketball, from both the national and Big Ten Conference perspectives.

The Iowa men are a near-ideal test case for this school of thought in this particular season, and Monday's final sets of national rankings before Selection Sunday add more ammunition to that claim.

The Hawkeyes (20-11), who finished in a four-way tie for fifth place in the Big Ten with an 11-9 conference record, dropped seven spots in both the USA TODAY Coaches' Poll and The Associated Press' top 25, from 18th to No. 25.

That plunge comes after a two-loss week that included a second drubbing at the hands of 16-15 Purdue and a fiercely contested two-point loss Sunday at Illinois.

The NCAA selection committee doesn't go by the polls in slotting the 68-team bracket, which will be revealed at 5 p.m. Sunday on CBS, but those rankings can at least be reliable baseline indicators of seeding ranges.

There's a big difference in site preference and the quality of early-round opponents, even between the margins of a No. 6 and No. 7 seed, which the Hawkeyes currently are projected to hold. And with six Big Ten schools sporting records of 21-10 or 20-11, there is room for late jockeying of positions among a group of teams projected to grab at a lot of those middle-seed spots.

A particularly garish loss or impressive run could send the Hawkeyes down another line or up a couple more, pending their performance in Indianapolis as the tournament's No. 5 seed. They'll begin at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday against either Northwestern (8-22) or Minnesota (14-16), and will face No. 4 seed at about the same time on Friday with a win.

USA TODAY COACHES' POLL

  1. Kansas (28-3), 800 points [32 first-place votes]
  2. Gonzaga (29-2), 755
  3. Dayton (29-2), 743
  4. Florida State (26-5), 659
  5. Baylor (26-4), 656
  6. San Diego St. (30-2), 584
  7. Kentucky (25-6), 570
  8. Villanova (24-7), 524
  9. Creighton (24-7), 513
  10. Duke (15-6), 508
  11. Maryland (24-7), 487
  12. Michigan State (22-9), 431
  13. Oregon (24-7), 425
  14. Louisville (24-7), 421
  15. Seton Hall (21-9), 383
  16. Brigham Young (24-7), 340
  17. Auburn (25-6), 228
  18. Virginia (23-7), 227
  19. Wisconsin (21-10), 225
  20. Ohio St. (21-10), 193
  21. Butler (22-9), 145
  22. Illinois (21-10), 131
  23. West Virginia (21-10), 105
  24. Houston (23-8), 92
  25. Iowa (20-11), 79

Dropped out: No. 20 Penn St.

Others receiving votes: Penn St., 33; East Tennessee St., 26; Michigan, 25; Stephen F. Austin, 16; St. Mary's, 12; Providence, 11; Utah St., 8; Texas Tech, 8; Colorado, 7; UCLA, 6; Rutgers, 5; Louisiana St., 5; Arizona, 4; Southern California, 3; Stanford, 2; Richmond, 2; Northern Iowa, 2; Oklahoma, 1.

ASSOCIATED PRESS POLL

  • 1. Kansas (28-3), 1,625 [65]
  • 2. Gonzaga (29-2), 1,546
  • 3. Dayton (29-2), 1,507
  • 4. Florida St. (26-5), 1,384
  • 5. Baylor (26-4), 1,322
  • 6. San Diego St. (30-2), 1,261
  • 7. Creighton (24-7), 1,157
  • 8. Kentucky (25-6), 1,118
  • 9. Michigan St. (22-9), 995
  • 10. Duke (25-6), 990
  • 11. Villanova (24-7), 989
  • 12. Maryland (24-7), 912
  • 13. Oregon (24-7), 904
  • 14. Brigham Young (24-7), 762
  • 15. Louisville (24-7), 755
  • 16. Seton Hall (21-9), 722
  • 17. Virginia (23-7), 560
  • 18. Wisconsin (21-10), 495
  • 19. Ohio St. (21-10), 443
  • 20. Auburn (25-6), 436
  • 21. Illinois (21-10), 241
  • T22. Houston (23-8), 167
  • T22. West Virginia (21-10), 167
  • 24. Butler (22-9), 161
  • 25. Iowa (20-11), 111

Others receiving votes: Stephen F. Austin, 75; Providence, 66; East Tennessee St., 59; Michigan, 53; Penn St., 42; Utah St., 40; Saint Mary's, 9; Arizona, 7; Liberty, 6; USC, 6; Richmond, 5; Northern Iowa, 4; UCLA, 4; New Mexico St., 4; Rutgers, 4; Texas Tech, 3; Vermont, 2; LSU, 2; Purdue, 1; Belmont, 1; Mississippi St., 1; Florida, 1.

Danny Lawhon works across the Register’s sports department, from editing, social media and sports wagering to bowls, brackets and data dives. Reach him at dlawhon@registermedia.com or follow @DannyLawhon on Twitter.