Horizon League Power Rankings – Week 18

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The final week of the Horizon League regular season cleared up about as much with these power rankings off the court as it did on the court. With a win at Northern Kentucky, Wright State solidified itself as the unquestioned team to beat in the Horizon League Tournament. By keeping this game competitive, Northern Kentucky solidified a stranglehold on the second spot. Off the court Detroit Mercy was declared ineligible for the postseason, ending its season and giving IUPUI the chance to jump out of last place for a week.

Outside of that, the league is as big of a mess as always. But good news for Horizon League Power Ranking writers: most teams will be eliminated and this will be much easier next week.

  1. Wright State Raiders (25-6, 15-3 in Horizon League play)

    There’s really no argument about the team to beat in the Horizon League after Wright State went to second place Northern Kentucky and clinched the regular season title. While the 64-62 final was much closer than the 30-point beatdown Wright State put on NKU at the Nutter Center, securing a road win and a regular season sweep over the only team that has had a realistic shot to take the crown from the Raiders for the last several weeks erased all debate.

  2. Northern Kentucky Norse (21-9, 13-5)

    The other recipient of a double-bye into the Horizon League Tournament semifinals, NKU has actually outperformed travel partner Wright State several times in Horizon League play when the two schools weren’t up against one another. The Norse seem likely to have one last chance to prove the adage that it’s hard to beat a [good] team three times in a season is true.

  3. Green Bay Phoenix (16-15, 11-7)

    The deciding factor for third really came down to the three-seed, as Green Bay’s last two losses were to the Oakland team that just beat UIC and to UIC itself. At each team’s best, I’m not sure if I’d rather play Green Bay or UIC. At each team’s worst, I’m not sure if I’d rather play Green Bay or UIC. The Phoenix get the nod here because they have one less opportunity for the worst to be on display.

  4. UIC Flames (15-16, 10-8)

    Despite allowing the season sweep to Oakland, UIC is still the hottest team in the league not named Wright State. If the Flames can avoid coming out cold like the team did against Oakland, UIC has the potential to flip the Horizon League tournament on its head.

    Like Green Bay, UIC has a win over each Wright State and Northern Kentucky this year, with the latter being a 73-43 beatdown on the road. The talent is there, putting it together has been the issue for the Flames this season.

  5. Youngstown State Penguins (17-14, 10-8)

    It’s hard to get a good read on the Penguins. On the surface, the team appears to be trending down, with a 2-3 record in its last five and one of the two wins against a Milwaukee team that’s trending down even worse. But a rocky finish for YSU was to be expected with the difficult schedule the team had to end the regular season. The Penguins hosted the top two seeds and played on the road against the three-seed and one of the hottest teams in the Horizon league.

    In fact, one of the two victories in its last five games was a convincing 18-point win over Wright State that caused the Raiders’ regular season finale to be a high-stakes affair with a share of the league title on the line. one of the three losses was a two-point defeat to Northern Kentucky. So are the Penguins fading? Or just struggling against a schedule far more difficult than anything that the other schools in the top half of the standings had to face?

  6. Oakland Golden Grizzlies (13-18, 8-10)

    Oakland looked like one of the hotter teams in the league since Rashad Williams was declared eligible…and promptly gave up a regular season sweep to league bottom feeder IUPUI. The Golden Grizzlies made up a lot of ground on giving the Jaguars two of the team’s three Horizon League wins by ending UIC’s bid for the league three-seed, but now Oakland with an up-to-speed Rashad Williams has to fall into the same wildly inconsistent category as most of the rest of the league.

    The Golden Grizzlies retain sixth place in the Power Rankings by showing the ability to punch up in a way that Cleveland State and Milwaukee haven’t shown this year.

  7. Cleveland State Vikings (11-20, 7-11)

    Cleveland State jumps Milwaukee after winning head-to-head at Panther Arena last week, and in the process got the win total necessary to lock down a share of Horizon League Coach of the Year.

    Faltering at Green Bay demonstrated that the Vikings still lack the ability to punch up that is required to be a bigger threat in the Horizon League Tournament. It’d be a surprise if the Vikings are still in the mix next week,

  8. Milwaukee Panthers (12-18, 7-11)

    The Panthers’ rough streak continued this week at home against Cleveland State and Youngstown State. In a troubling trend that first became a regular occurrence against in-state rival Green Bay, the Panthers haven’t been able to defend a lead since narrowly surviving at IUPUI almost a month ago.

    It seems the Panthers might have quit on Head Coach Pat Baldwin. After a fifth straight loss where the team held a lead well into the second half, Milwaukee now needs to travel to its regular season finale opponent Youngstown State and hope to break out of its current five-game losing streak. The odds don’t look great.

  9. IUPUI Jaguars (7-24, 3-15)

    It was always going to take something incredible for IUPUI to climb out of last place in the Horizon League Power Rankings. Last week’s news that ninth place Detroit Mercy wouldn’t be eligible for the postseason was exactly the incredible result the Jaguars needed. And I guess securing a season sweep of Oakland was pretty nice too.

    IUPUI still poses a threat if star guards Marcus Burk and Jaylen Minnett pick the same day for a stellar performance, but it’s unlikely we’ll be talking about the team’s NCAA Tournament aspirations next week.

  10. Detroit Mercy Titans (8-23, 6-12)

    The Titans won’t participate in the Horizon League Tournament. With single-digit wins, there won’t be an opportunity to play in the CBI or CIT.

    This weekend, Detroit Mercy became the first team to officially complete its 2020 season.

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