Few wins, but many interesting developments in Week 2
Another week of Horizon League Women’s Basketball yielded few wins, but made it even more clear who the team to beat in league play is. Interestingly, one of the league’s few victories of the week was over a projected Big East contender. Two-time defending Horizon League Player of the Year asserted herself as a near-unstoppable force heading into her senior year in the league.
Robert Morris will not be included in this week’s rankings after positive COVID-19 tests forced the cancellation of this week’s Horizon League debut.
- IUPUI Jaguars (2-1, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
Despite suffering its first loss of the season, IUPUI’s spot at the top of the Horizon League is arguably stronger than it was last week after a strong performance against Notre Dame. While the Irish have plummeted out of the Top 25, a Horizon League school that’s capable of taking on the storied ACC program probably has a leg up on the rest of the league.
IUPUI’s other game was a dominant 73-49 win over Ball State. For much of the contest, the Jaguars’ star center Macee Williams was keeping up with Ball State’s point total by herself. Williams finished with 28 points in 27 minutes. Considering that Milwaukee – another team off to a strong start in the Horizon League – needed a fourth quarter eruption to put away the Cardinals, IUPUI’s dominant win further established it as the team to beat.
- Green Bay Phoenix (1-2, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
Green Bay took a unique approach to its non-conference schedule and challenged itself with two games against Summit League contender North Dakota State in two days. The Phoenix went 0-2 in those contests, but the interesting approach could prove fruitful entering Horizon League play this week where two games in two days will be the norm. We’ll see quickly whether the strategy gives Green Bay an advantage.
- Milwaukee Panthers (3-1, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
Milwaukee has wins over projected Top 3 teams in the MAC, Missouri Valley Conference and Big East; so its heartbreaking loss to Bowling Green is equal parts disappointing and confusing. The Falcons are projected for an eleventh place finish in the MAC.
There’s an argument that the Panthers might deserve a Top 2 spot right now given that the team has the best non-conference record and the best win in the league, but the schedule will sort that out easily enough when the Panthers head to Green Bay this week.
- Wright State Raiders (0-1, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
Wright State’s first two games of the season saw the team playing opponents who have already played Horizon League foes this year, which created some pretty useful information at a time when there’s very little information available.
While the Raiders – like Oakland before them – were totally outmatched by nationally ranked Michigan, the team seemed to put up a far better fight. On the flipside, the 66-61 home loss to Bradley allowed a Milwaukee team that beat the Braves on the road to jump WSU in the rankings.
- Youngstown State Penguins (0-0, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
YSU hasn’t played yet this season. That means it’s missing out on opportunities to rise in the rankings with good wins, but it’s also avoiding bad losses that drop it in the rankings.
- Northern Kentucky Norse (0-4, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
How does a team drop below a school that hasn’t even played yet in the Power Rankings? Losing three games in a week – two to teams projected for the bottom of the MAC – is a great way to do it.
While NKU’s loss to Cincinnati is understandable, getting run out of the gym by Akron and Bowling Green – projected for tenth and eleventh in MAC play – is much more concerning. The Norse are now 0-4 overall despite the pair of very winnable games. With multiple teams that have yet to play, NKU’s drop could’ve been even more drastic.
- Cleveland State (0-0, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
Cleveland State is in a tough spot, as the team opted not to play in the non-conference and has now had its opening Horizon League games against Robert Morris canceled due to positive tests on the RMU side. There’s the temptation to move CSU above a Northern Kentucky team that has struggled mightily so far this year, but with another week with no information on the Vikings coming, we’ll hold off for now.
- UIC Flames (1-2, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
UIC’s follow-up to a surprising victory over Eastern Michigan was a hard-fought 80-76 loss to Western Michigan. While the Broncos are picked last in the MAC, that seems to be more of a lack of optimism on how they’ll do without graduated star Breanna Mobley. WMU posted winning records in three of the last four seasons, so a team like UIC that has found double-digit wins to be a struggle shouldn’t feel too bad about the loss.
- Oakland Golden Grizzlies (0-2, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
Oakland’s lone contest of the week – against Chicago State – was canceled. No new information means the Golden Grizzlies remain where they were last week.
- Detroit Mercy Titans (0-4, 0-0 in Horizon League play)
Detroit Mercy posted another 0-2 week, with losses to Michigan State and Toledo. A low-ranked Horizon League team getting blown out by a Big 10 school isn’t a surprise, but the Titans missed on an opportunity to move up by failing to outdo Oakland in a game against the Rockets. As a result, Detroit Mercy remains two spots from the bottom in the rankings again.
- Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons (0-2, 0-0 in Horizon Leage play)
Purdue Fort Wayne had another game that seemingly could’ve offered a victory when it took on the Missouri Valley’s projected last-place team Evansville on Saturday. The Mastodons fell 70-60 after getting buried by a double-digit deficit in the first half. Any attempts to get out of last place will need to happen in Horizon League play, but opening league play against IUPUI might make that a tough task.