Iowa basketball: Hawkeyes' No. 3 AP ranking matches best of Fran McCaffery era

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

Iowa was ranked No. 3 in Monday’s Associated Press men’s basketball poll, a two-spot jump that matches the highest ranking of the 11-year Fran McCaffery era.

The Hawkeyes (2-0) cruised to a pair of non-conference victories last week, 97-67 against North Carolina-Central and 103-76 against Southern, enabling them to jump two spots from their preseason No. 5 ranking.

Previous No. 3 Villanova lost to Virginia Tech (home to former Hawkeye Cordell Pemsl, a graduate transfer) and previous No. 4 Virginia lost to San Francisco.

Iowa is averaging 100 points through two games.

Iowa reached the No. 3 spot for one week in the 2015-16 season, getting there in the Jan. 25, 2016 poll after starting 7-0 in Big Ten Conference play and 16-3 overall. The Hawkeyes haven’t been higher than this since being No. 2 in the Jan. 26, 1987, poll under then-first-year coach Tom Davis.

Led by all-American Luka Garza, the Hawkeyes have just one game this week — 7 p.m. Thursday against Western Illinois. Next week, they’ll host AP No. 14 North Carolina (Dec. 8) and Iowa State (Dec. 11) before taking a trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to face No. 1 Gonzaga (Dec. 19).

Four Big Ten teams take up the top eight spots in the AP poll. Iowa is followed by No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 5 Illinois and No. 8 Michigan State. Gonzaga received 57 of 63 first-place votes; No. 2 Baylor got the other six. The Register's Chad Leistikow, Iowa's lone AP voter, had the Hawkeyes No. 3 on his ballot.