Horizon League Power Rankings – Week 8


After a mind-blowing finish on national TV, Cleveland State guaranteed it would go into the midpoint of the Horizon League as the undisputed first place team. While that doesn’t necessarily translate to a first place spot in the power rankings, it allows for a strong argument. Elsewhere in the league, UIC had a bounce back week, and practically everything else descended further into chaos.

For the first time in recent memory, every school in the league has done what it needed to do to remain ranked.

  1. Cleveland State Vikings

    I’ll be honest, I’m writing this paragraph on Friday after CSU snuck past Wright State on a Spider Johnson transition alley-oop with less than two seconds to play. If this weekend is anything like Wright State’s last two, it’s entirely possible they’ll beat the Vikings by 50 on Saturday. It doesn’t matter and I’m not editing this. CSU would still have shown the ability to beat the other top teams in the league while also avoiding ugly losses to sub-.500 teams. They’re in first.

    Torrey Patton continued to be the key behind Cleveland State’s success over the weekend, and on Friday that continued to be a great thing. Patton scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the win. Saturday marked the first time he was held to single-digit scoring in Horizon League play, and it was CSU’s first league loss of the season. Patton shot just 1-for-6 from the field and scored two points. He did grab 12 rebounds, but his struggles from the field reflected Cleveland State’s as a whole.
  2. Wright State Raiders

    There’s an understandable argument to be made for the Raiders in first place after they’ve avenged each league loss in dominant fashion, including a 36-point win over first place Cleveland State on Saturday. The league’s top two teams put on a show for ESPNU viewers on Friday with an awesome back-and-forth contest that ended with Wright State appearing to force overtime before CSU’s D’Moi Hodge went the length of the court in 4.8 seconds before hoisting the game-winning alley-oop to Spider Johnson. Like the last two weeks, Wright State used the other game of the weekend to assert that it’s still a force in the league even if the team is going into the midway point of the year two games out of first place.

    While Tanner Holden having a slightly off shooting night wasn’t a factor this week in the loss on Friday, he scored just 11 points on 2-for-3 shooting. He racked up free throws to make up the difference, but it was the Raiders’ leading scorer’s lowest scoring night of Horizon League play. His 23 points on 6-for-8 shooting on Saturday tell a pretty clear story of how that game got out of hand
  3. Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons

    Following Cleveland State’s loss, Purdue Fort Wayne took over as the Horizon League team riding the longest win streak, with four victories in a row. The Mastodons lead the NCAA in 3-point shooting, no doubt in part thanks to Saturday’s 70.6 percent shooting night from long range. That hot shooting allowed Purdue Fort Wayne to jump out to a 17-point lead, that it held onto for a 81-74 victory. The Mastodons didn’t use such a shooting performance on Friday, but effectively attacked the glass to win the rebounding battle 44-29 en route to an 81-72 win.

    Jarred Godfrey had another dominant weekend for the Mastodons. He averaged 20.5 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in the sweep; leading the team in all three categories in both games. If not for a high turnover count and Jalen Moore of Oakland playing out of his mind, Godfrey likely would’ve collected a second straight Horizon League Player of the Week award. Godfrey narrowly leads Moore in scoring during league play, with Godfrey at 20.5 points per game and Moore at 20.1.
  4. UIC Flames

    With Braelen Bridges returning to the rotation, UIC got back on track with a pair of wins over Robert Morris. On Friday, the Flames used a 10-2 run to go into halftime up 37-28 and never looked back in a 67-53 win. It looked like more a similar situation on Saturday when the Flames used an early second half run to take a multiple-possession lead, but an 8-0 RMU rally changed the complexion of the game and forced overtime. Four quick UIC points forced the Colonials to play catchup the whole overtime period, and the Flames came away with a 66-62 win.

    Teyvion Kirk struggled with foul trouble and his shot wasn’t falling on Friday, but he still contributed in other ways by leading the team in rebounds and assists in both games. He averaged 13.5 points, 9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in the sweep.
  5. Oakland Golden Grizzlies

    Oakland bounced back nicely from last week’s losses to Green Bay by sweeping Youngstown State, the team picked second in the Horizon League preseason poll. Both games were tight nearly halfway through the second half, but they took different paths from there. On Friday, the Goldent Grizzlies used a 15-0 run to put the Penguins away. Saturday was arguably a more important result for OU. The Golden Grizzlies toughed it out to win a close contest similar to the two they gave away late a week ago. So far, Oakland has embodied the league’s inconsistency better than anyone. Since the end of its insanely challenging non-conference schedule, Oakland has neither won nor lost more than two games in a row.

    Jalen Moore remained one of the most prolific offensive threats in the league on his way to winning Horizon League Player of the Week. Moore averaged 24.5 points and 13 assists per game. Moore posted his second 30-point outing of the season on Saturday.
  6. Robert Morris Colonials

    On the other side of UIC’s bounce back from a pair of shorthanded losses to Purdue Fort Wayne last week, Robert Morris’ offense seriously struggled in its first game since New Year’s Day. Outside of A.J. Bramah scoring double figures in both games, a 10-point night from Kahlil Spear on Saturday was the only double-digit performance the rest of RMU’s roster could put together.

    Bramah averaged 22 points, but shot just 35.4 percent from the field. The two games were the first two of Bramah’s season where he was held under 40 percent from the field. He somewhat mitigated those shooting woes by averaging 15 rebounds per game, but without a second scorer the Colonials fell. Despite his shooting struggles, Bramah should still be positioned just as well for postseason awards thanks to these performances.
  7. Milwaukee Panthers

    While 3-point defense played a big part in Milwaukee’s loss to Purdue Fort Wayne on Saturday, 3-point offense was likely just as important. The Panthers shot 55 3-pointers and made just 27.2 percent of them. With Purdue Fort Wayne hitting 5 more 3-pointers. on16 less attempts, the Panthers may want to reconsider how much of a part of the offense long-range shots are right now.

    Tafari Simms had another pair of quality offensive performances for Milwaukee over the weekend. He averaged 17 points and six rebounds despite once again struggling with foul trouble in one of the games. Simms is now the team’s fourth leading scorer after being the fourth forward in a four forward rotation to start the year. If he can keep out of foul trouble, he could be a key piece for Milwaukee in the second half of the season.
  8. Northern Kentucky Norse

    Last week, I got together with Norse Report founder (and HoriZone Roundtable writer) Kyle Craven to discuss what I felt IUPUI could do to beat NKU. My argument was that if Marcus Burk and Jalen Minnett went off, they could beat anybody in the league. On paper, the school that slowed Jared Godfrey would have an answer for at least one of them. In practice, they didn’t. NKU allowed Burk and Minnett to combine for over 40 points in both games, with few others contributing much in the way of scoring. The Norse lost 74-69 on Friday and 65-63 on Saturday.

    While he was held to just nine points on Saturday, Marques Warrick got the weekend off to an strong start on Friday with an efficient 20-point night. Warrick finished the night with a 76.92 effective field goal percentage. Despite Saturday’s results, he’s still well on his way to being the Horizon League Freshman of the Year.
  9. IUPUI Jaguars

    It’s not often that a team completes a sweep and still winds up a spot behind its weekend opponent, but perceptions on IUPUI and NKU were far enough apart that it’s hard to justify jumping the Jaguars above the Norse. Especially since the key for IUPUI to pull off wins last year is exactly how they won this weekend.

    Marcus Burk scorched the nets in both games against NKU. He averaged 25 points with a 65.28 effective field goal percentage in the two games. While he’s had nice performances before this weekend, these are easily Burk’s two best games this year so far. The Jaguars are going to need a few more of these performances while their promising new backcourt players get used to playing big minutes in Division I.
  10. Youngstown State Penguins

    Youngstown State entered the season projected for a second place finish by HoriZone Roundtable, the Horizon League itself, and seemingly just about everybody else. Sitting at 3-7 in league play, all hopes of YSU finishing that high in the standings seem dead already. While two more league games make it a weird comparison by the end of the season, the Penguins lost eight games all last year and finished tied for fourth.

    Myles Hunter was one bright spot for YSU this weekend. He won Horizon League Freshman of the week after averaging 18 points with an effective field goal percentage of 66.7. Hunter seems to be a player who benefitted greatly from the game against Carlow University. It was Hunter’s first career double-digit scoring night, and he’s accomplished that feat three times since. After playing just 34 minutes in his first four games, Hunter was asked to play 38 minutes on Friday and 39 on Saturday. On his current trajectory, don’t be surprised if he’s a late-bloomer who turns into an All-Freshman Team pick.
  11. Detroit Mercy Titans

    Alright, so technically if you frame Detroit Mercy as the one Horizon League team that hasn’t lost in 2021, this ranking is pretty unfair. And they did go 2-0 this week. But among the teams that pulled off sweeps this weekend, Detroit Mercy’s opponent appears the weakest and the Titans have nothing else to help sway things in their favor. On Friday the Titans took a lead early in the first half and never looked back, cruising to an 86-61 win. Saturday’s game was much tighter, with the Titans taking the lead for good in the back-and-forth affair with 4:20 to play.

    Antoine Davis finally put forth a couple dominant performances. If not for Jalen Moore’s stat-stuffing weekend, Davis likely would’ve been a strong candidate for League Player of the Week. Davis averaged 28 points and 5.5 assists in the two wins.
  12. Green Bay Phoenix

    Green Bay rounds things out during a week where the last four were as difficult as I can remember, and not all that far behind the “middle” of the league. The Phoenix just swept a team I have ranked fifth a week ago! At the midway point of the season, it seems clear the league’s floor is higher than it was a year ago and it shouldn’t be a shock to see Green Bay pull off some wins that it shouldn’t on paper going forward.

    Emmanuel Ansong – who followed Will Ryan to Green Bay from Wheeling – appears to be emerging as a fourth scoring option for the Phoenix. While Ansong gave up some of his role as a rebounder this weekend, he averaged 12.5 points per game and tallied a career high 16 points on Saturday.

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