With another rough week in the books, there were significant changes in the Power Rankings. First, several teams have found their way back into the rankings after resuming basketball activities following COVID-19 restrictions. Second, a week of surprising performances – both good and bad – caused teams to move dramatically.
Purdue Fort Wayne will remain out of the rankings for one more week due to positive COVID-19 tests.
- Wright State Raiders (1-1, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
If the overwhelming preseason league favorite had only had its loss to Marshall this week, this ranking would be hard to justify. The Thundering Herd are nearly one hundred spots higher than any of WSU’s Horizon League foes on KenPom. Still, a loss where the Raiders seemed to run out of gas and suffered from a lack of a floor general showed the concerns of the preseason might be bigger issues than everyone thought when the Raiders were picked as the overwhelming favorite to win the Horizon League.
Fortunately, Wright State had a second game and made the most of it. The Raiders cruised against a Miami (OH) team that’s projected to be about as good as the rest of the Horizon League. While none of the backcourt players emerged as a true point guard, the ball was distributed much better and wing Tim Finke led the team with six assists.
- Detroit Mercy Titans (0-2, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
Thanks to a couple slip-ups from teams that got their seasons off to winning starts, the Titans skyrocket up the rankings from the HoriZone Preseason Poll projection despite an 0-2 start thanks to a pair of impressive outings against Power Conference foes.
The Titans lost to eighth ranked Michigan State 83-76 on Friday, then lost to Notre Dame 78-70 on Sunday night. While the Titans’ lack of size and the fact that standout scorer Antoine Davis is on the roster might lead anyone who didn’t watch the games to believe Davis and a flurry of 3-pointers were key to the victory, Davis struggled shooting the ball and the Titans were outshot from both inside and outside of the 3-point line in both games. The success despite obvious disadvantages and a lack of hero-ball from Davis suggests that the Titans might finally have a team around its point guard that can lead it to a strong season.
- Northern Kentucky Norse (2-1, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
Northern Kentucky jumps back into the Power Rankings after it was revealed that the positive COVID-19 test that caused it to shut down basketball operations was a false positive. While a 1-1 week where the lone win was over Tennessee Tech doesn’t seem like something worthy of letting NKU jump UIC, this week gave us a mutual opponent that make the move possible.
- UIC Flames (3-1, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
UIC looked solid through its first three games of the season before faltering late against Ball State. The loss to a team that Northern Kentucky already beat – albeit barely – is reason enough to jump the Norse over UIC given how little information we have at this time.
While it has nothing to do with the Flames, UIC’s two-point victory over Central Michigan also looks significantly worse after the Chippewas lost by 19 to Division II Flagler College.
- Youngstown State Penguins (0-0, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
Youngstown State makes its first appearance in the Power Rankings as the team is expected to make its season debut this week. With no results, the Penguins will start off at the head of the group of teams that hasn’t been able to play its way up the power rankings to this point.
- Robert Morris Colonials (1-0, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
RMU’s season finally began with a 75-57 victory over Point Park University. While it’s nice to know another team has resumed activities, a victory over an NAIA school doesn’t move the needle either direction.
- Oakland Golden Grizzlies (0-6, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
Oakland is something of an enigma in these power rankings. While it’s not shocking at all that the Golden Grizzlies are 0-6 at this point in the year, the way they got there makes it difficult to figure out where to place the team right now.
An overtime loss to Michigan and causing some problems for Oklahoma State would suggest a decent ranking is in order. Getting run out of the gym against Xavier, Purdue, and especially Toledo would suggest a much lower ranking. For now, the Golden Grizzlies will be in seventh – the top of the bottom half.
- Green Bay Phoenix (0-3, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
There weren’t many conclusions that could be made when Green Bay was dramatically overmatched by Big 10 teams Minnesota and Wisconsin. The team’s game against Eastern Illinois was much more evenly matched and as a result, valuable conclusions can be drawn.
Entering the season, expectations are for the Panthers to be about on par with the second tier of teams in the Horizon League. That gives a small silver lining to Saturday’s gut-wrenching 93-91 double overtime loss to EIU. Green Bay could be a threat to exceed preseason expectations, particularly once it figures out its frontcourt rotation.
- Cleveland State Vikings (0-2, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
Cleveland State’s stint at the top of the Horizon League Power Rankings was bound to be a short one, but the Vikings squashed all doubts that they don’t belong at the top spot by allowing Ohio to score a Division I vs. Division I record 40 consecutive points in a 101-46 defeat. It looked for awhile like Ohio might triple CSU’s point total.
It capped off a strange first week of the season for Cleveland State. With so few games played this season, playing without All-League forward Al Eichelberger and putting up a competitive effort against Toledo – which ran Oakland out of the gym 80-53 less than two weeks ago – seemed like it was going to keep the Vikings near the top of this week’s rankings.
- Milwaukee Panthers (0-0, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
A recurring theme we’ve seen this season is for teams that have long shutdowns due to COVID-19 to come out flat when it’s finally time to take the court. Don’t be surprised if Milwaukee falls victim to that this week against Kansas State and Western Michigan. This is especially true because the games will be on back-to-back days.
- IUPUI Jaguars (0-0, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
Like Milwaukee, IUPUI is still waiting to make its season debut. The Jaguars finished well behind the pack last year, so it’s going to take one team making a few more efforts like CSU’s against Ohio – or an impressive victory of their own – to get the Jaguars out of last.