Five weekend sweeps make the picture much clearer
|This bizarre season just went from providing next to no information due to a lack of non-conference games to providing a ton of relevant information as teams dove into Horizon League play in the third week of the year. An interesting development from the first weekend of Horizon League play is that no team split its first series. As a result, there are several clear tiers already beginning to form within the league. |
This week’s power rankings are going to be a little more harsh than weeks past. With a pair of schools that have yet to play a game this season, both Cleveland State and Youngstown State will be left out of the rankings because things are too far along to be relying purely on preseason expectations.
- IUPUI Jaguars (4-1, 2-0 in Horizon League play)
IUPUI opened up league play against its old Summit League rival and new Horizon League member Purdue Fort Wayne. The two teams are projected to be on opposite ends of the league, so it wasn’t a surprise that the Jaguars cruised to a pair of wins.
Macee Williams led the way for IUPUI in both games. She tallied 13 points and 7 rebounds in just 21 minutes in an easy 75-36 victory on Saturday, then went for 22 points and 10 rebounds in a 80-59 win that IUPUI led by just two after a quarter on Sunday.
- Milwaukee Panthers (5-1, 2-0 in Horizon League play)
The Panthers continued an extremely impressive start to the 2021 season with a pair of wins at in-state rival Green Bay. Milwaukee now has five wins against projected Top 3 teams in the MAC, Missouri Valley, Big East and Horizon League. The 2-0 weekend marks the first time since 2005-06 that Milwaukee has completed a regular season sweep of Green Bay. Milwaukee unquestionably has the best resume to this point, but very different results against a shared opponent with IUPUI –plus last week’s heartbreaking loss to Bowling Green – keeps the Panthers out of first place. Milwaukee needed a late run to put away Ball State, while Macee Williams spent most of IUPUI’s contest against the Cardinals trying to single-handedly keep pace with the team.
Sophomore forward Megan Walstad starred for the Panthers all weekend at Green Bay on her way to being named the Horizon League Player of the Week. She scored 16 points and 8 rebounds in a 61-59 victory on Saturday, then 19 points and 13 rebounds in Sunday’s 59-51 victory. She hit 54 percent of her shots for the weekend. Walstad is averaging a double-double with 12.2 points and 10.3 rebounds per game for Milwaukee after missing last season with an injury.
- Wright State Raiders (2-2, 2-0 in Horizon League play)
Cancellations and scheduling make it difficult to get a great read on the Raiders at this point. Wright State went 0-2 in the non-conference, with one of the losses coming to a nationally ranked Michigan team that even IUPUI likely needs a lot of luck to beat. Its two Horizon League contests were against perennial league bottom-feeder Detroit Mercy, which currently sits at 0-6 on the season. A 66-61 home loss against Bradley is the only game on WSU’s schedule and all it indicates is that the Raiders might be a bit worse than a Milwaukee team that beat the Braves.
Backup guard KK White paced the Raiders in both contests. She scored 18 points on 7-for 13 shooting in a 75-55 win on Saturday. Interestingly, despite a 73-43 win in which two Detroit Mercy players hit double figures, her nine points were a team best for WSU on Sunday.
- Green Bay Phoenix (1-4, 0-2 in Horizon League play)
Early returns on Green Bay’s effort to acclimate itself to the Horizon League’s odd schedule by playing North Dakota State on back-to-back days weren’t great. The Phoenix lost both games against the Bisons, then returned home to lose a pair to arch-rival Milwaukee. Making matters worse, next weekend’s games against Cleveland State were cancelled due to positive COVID-19 tests. A weekend in Fargo that was supposed to give the Phoenix a leg up on the Horizon League will now just allow the team to keep pace in terms of experience with the year’s odd scheduling.
Last week, Green Bay’s Caitlyn Hibner and Jasmine Kondrakiewicz were named the Horizon League Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week. The duo took turns leading the way for Green Bay against Milwaukee this weekend, but couldn’t combine efforts to take down the Panthers. Kondrakiewicz led the Phoenix with 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting on Saturday, while Hibner tallied 18 points on Sunday.
- Northern Kentucky Norse (2-4, 2-0 in Horizon League play)
While it didn’t actually impact the team’s status in the Power Rankings at all thanks to Youngstown being left out of this week’s results, Northern Kentucky’s commanding pair of wins over Horizon League newcomer Robert Morris drew a clear line in the rankings. It’s going to take a lot for the Norse to fall behind the Colonials based on this weekend’s games.
Louisville transfer and former 5-star recruit Lindsey Duvall rewarded coach Camryn Whitaker for inserting her into the starting lineup with a 22 point, 13 rebound performance as the Norse dominated 62-33. She added four assists with no turnovers, just for good measure. 2020 All-Freshman team pick Ivy Turner led the way on Sunday with 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting in a 62-50 win.
- Robert Morris Colonials (0-2, 0-2 in Horizon League play)
It feels strange putting RMU just one spot behind a team that nearly doubled it up three days ago, but with two other teams that are expected to be about in this range still waiting to play a single game it’s necessary. Rest assured NKU fans who read past your blurb, there’s a solid divide between 5 and 6 on this ranking. Whether it was difficulty adjusting to a new league and life after star Nneka Ezeigbo’s graduation or rust from not having played once during non-conference play, RMU wasn’t particularly competitive in its first weekend of Horizon League play.
Isabella Posset’s six points were the best any Colonial could muster in Saturday’s blowout loss. Nina Augustin scored 10 points and became the team’s first player to crack double figures in the more competitive loss on Sunday.
- Oakland Golden Grizzlies (2-2, 2-0 in Horizon League play)
Despite a Golden Grizzly resume that popped less than Oakland’s first league foe UIC’s did, the team had little difficulty establishing that it doesn’t belong in the cluster at the bottom of the Horizon League in the opening weekend of league play. Oakland established a 12-point halftime lead and refused to let it slip away in Saturday’s 76-70 win, then clobbered the Flames 81-55 on Sunday.
Preseason Second Team All-League pick Kahlaijah Dean had an impressive weekend. Her 28 points led the way for OU in its more competitive contest. Her scoring took a backseat on Sunday as she scored just eight points but stuffed the rest of the stat sheet with eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.
- UIC Flames (1-4, 0-2 in Horizon League play)
Once again, two teams are next to one another in the rankings despite a large gap being established between them in the league’s opening weekend. UIC showing it can beat an Eastern Michigan team projected for a higher finish in the MAC than Oakland is picked to finish in the Horizon League keeps the Flames above the other two teams that have grown accustomed to the bottom of their respective conferences’ standings.
Freshman Kennady Schenck had a solid weekend scoring the ball. She hit double figures in both contests, scoring 10 on Saturday and leading the team with 17 on Sunday. While turnovers were a serious issue for Schenck and the young Flames, she knocked down 11 of her 23 shots for the weekend.
- Detroit Mercy Titans (0-6, 0-2 in Horizon League play
Detroit Mercy is still looking for its first win of the season after a pair of blowout losses against Wright State. Interestingly, Providence transfer Kaela Webb was the leading scorer in both games over the weekend despite Wright State outscoring the Titans by 50 points. Webb scored 22 points on Saturday and 17 on Sunday.
- Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons (0-4, 0-2 in Horizon League play)
Predictably, nothing changes for Purdue Fort Wayne after being dramatically overmatched in its opening weekend of Horizon League play. Shayla Sellers led the team in scoring on Saturday with eight points when IUPUI more than doubled Purdue Fort Wayne’s scoring total, then finished second on the team with 15 points in the Mastodons’ more competitive performance.