No. 3 Iowa’s date with No. 1 Gonzaga headlines Top 25 slate

Sports

Iowa center Luka Garza drives to the basket ahead of Northern Illinois forward Chinedu Okanu, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Third-ranked Iowa has put up big offensive numbers and lopsided wins behind a potential national player of the year in Luka Garza.

The next test – assuming everything stays on schedule amid the coronavirus pandemic – is to keep rolling against top-ranked Gonzaga.

The Hawkeyes (6-0) are set to face the Bulldogs on Saturday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in the week’s biggest game on the AP Top 25 schedule. But Gonzaga – which remained atop an unchanged top 5 in Monday’s latest poll – hasn’t played since beating West Virginia on Dec. 2 due to COVID-19 protocols, with five straight games being canceled or postponed.

That list included a matchup with No. 2 Baylor, which had to pause team activities Saturday.

The game would feature KenPom’s top two offenses, with the Hawkeyes ranked first in efficiency by averaging 118.9 points per 100 possessions followed by the Zags at 117.7.

Iowa hasn’t scored fewer than 93 points nor won a game by fewer than 13 points so far, with both marks coming in last week’s win against No. 22 North Carolina. The Hawkeyes followed by scoring 105 points against Iowa State and 106 points against Northern Illinois while shooting 55% and making 23 3-pointers over the two games.

“Kids dream about this game growing up,” freshman guard Ahron Ulis said after Sunday’s Northern Illinois win. “We’re going into the game with a lot of confidence.”

SATURDAY’S BUSY SLATE

The Iowa-Gonzaga matchup isn’t the only notable one on the Saturday slate.

The afternoon includes 12th-ranked Wisconsin hosting No. 23 Louisville in a rescheduled game, announced Monday, from the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

There’s another ACC-Big Ten meeting that afternoon in Cleveland between No. 20 Ohio State and UNC in the annual CBS Sports Classic, a doubleheader that also features unranked Kentucky and UCLA.

That night, No. 7 Villanova and No. 17 Virginia are scheduled to meet in New York, though the Cavaliers had to pause team activities last week due to COVID-19 concerns within the program.

RANKED LEAGUE PLAY

The Big Ten and Big 12 each have league matchups between a pair of ranked teams this week. On Thursday, fifth-ranked Kansas visits No. 14 Texas Tech after winning both meetings last year by a combined seven points. And No. 13 Illinois – which tumbled seven spots in this week’s poll after losing to Missouri – visits No. 19 Rutgers on Sunday.

THE NEWCOMERS

No. 16 Missouri, No. 24 Clemson and No. 25 Michigan were the additions to this week’s poll.

Missouri plays only once this week, hosting Prairie View A&M on Friday in what will be the Tigers’ first with an AP ranking since midway through the 2013-14 season.

Clemson travels to Virginia Tech – which was ranked 15th last week – on Tuesday and then visits instate rival South Carolina on Saturday.

Michigan, which was ranked in the preseason poll, doesn’t play again until visiting Nebraska on Christmas Day.

WATCH LIST

Oklahoma State (6-0) was one of the top vote-getters among unranked teams after winning at Wichita State on star freshman Cade Cunningham’s contested 3-pointer with 9.8 seconds left.

The Cowboys have a chance to play their way into next week’s AP Top 25 with a pair of Big 12 games. The first comes Wednesday against TCU at home, followed by a road game against No. 11 Texas on Sunday.

Richmond, which fell out of last week’s poll from No. 19, has a busy week, too. Coming off a loss to No. 8 West Virginia, the Spiders (4-1) visit Vanderbilt from the Southeastern Conference on Wednesday then face Loyola-Chicago in Indianapolis on Friday.

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More AP college basketball: http://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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