For the second week in a row, the Horizon League men’s basketball slate resulted in five sweeps out of six matchups. While there was a good deal of movement in this week’s rankings, they were much more stable than last week following the seemingly straightforward results. While two teams dropped multiple spots, nobody moved up more than one.
|Wright State Raiders||1||1||–|
|Cleveland State Vikings||2||2||–|
|Detroit Mercy Titans||3||4||+1|
|Northern Kentucky Norse||4||5||+1|
|Oakland Golden Grizzlies||5||3||-2|
|Green Bay Phoenix||8||8||–|
|Youngstown State Penguins||9||10||+1|
|Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons||11||9||-2|
|Robert Morris Colonials||12||12||–|
Wright State put up another dominant weekend to remain first in the rankings. After three straight weeks of weekend splits, the Raiders have had three straight weekends with two convincing wins. This weekend, WSU added 20 and 25-point wins. Despite being second in the standings, the Raiders are clearly playing like the best team in the league.
Cleveland State remained first in the standings, but went through some struggles along the way. It’s not nearly enough to take the Vikings out of the top two, particularly coming against a top five opponent in Oakland. Nonetheless, it widens the gap between Wright State and CSU.
Detroit Mercy continued to creep up the rankings since returning from a COVID-19 related pause during the first two weeks of the new year. The Titans are 7-1 in 2021, with the lone loss coming to Oakland. The team will have a chance to prove the results aren’t just because all of its opponents but Oakland have been ranked eighth or lower this weekend against Cleveland State, with Friday’s game being nationally televised on ESPNU.
Northern Kentucky continued a win streak of its own over the weekend, easily handling Milwaukee twice to move to 9-5 in the Horizon League. The Norse have a solid argument against Detroit Mercy in that two of their three opponents during the current 6-game streak are higher in the rankings than anyone the Titans have played except for the Oakland team that beat them.
Oakland was on the receiving end of a sweep this weekend, but that’s how just about everyone in the middle of the league has fared against Cleveland State. With all three of the teams left to be ranked that won this week playing other teams well behind OU in the standings, we’ll give the Golden Grizzlies the benefit of the doubt for now.
Like Oakland, Milwaukee was swept over the weekend but avoids much of a fall because the week’s remaining winners were near the bottom of the league. With that said, the Panthers will likely need to come up with another big upset to keep from dropping into the lower tiers of the rankings.
UIC is the final school that avoided a drastic fall thanks to having some cushion between them and the bottom of the league. The Flames were easily handled twice by Wright State. It’s not exactly the worst result, but a bit surprising given how much success the team has had lately and with UIC’s front court players having a lot of success against WSU in recent years.
Green Bay might’ve had a shot to elevate itself into the middle of the pack if not for Friday’s loss to IUPUI. If not for that loss, the Phoenix would have only lost on the road to second ranked Cleveland State and third ranked Detroit Mercy in the last month. The loss to a bottom-tier opponent makes it tough to elevate the Phoenix right now.
Youngstown State pulled off a sweep against Robert Morris and suddenly seems like it could reach .500 in this massively disappointing season. With that said, it’s far from a guarantee: the Penguins needed overtime in both of this weekend’s games and looked far from sharp in a 10-point win against Rochester University of the NAIA.
IUPUI was the other half of the weekend’s lone split. The Jaguars have officially surpassed last year’s Horizon League win total in just 12 games. With each of IUPUI’s remaining series being against teams in the bottom half of the league, it’s not out of the question that our pick to finish in last place might wind up in the middle of the pack instead.
Just a few weeks ago, Purdue Fort Wayne was in the middle of the Horizon League at 5-5 with a surprise series against Cleveland State and a scheduled series against Northern Kentucky in its rearview. With PFW being the team that was lucky enough to avoid Wright State, it looked like the Mastodons might build up some momentum heading into the originally scheduled regular season finale against the Vikings. It hasn’t played out that way at all. The Mastodons have been swept by three teams that looked to be decidedly below them in the ranking sat the time and now that series against CSU looks like it’ll be the end of a brutal second half of PFW’s first Horizon League season.
As frustrating as recent results have been for PFW, Robert Morris has to be more frustrated than anyone about this Horizon League season. With multiple stoppages during the season, it was tough for the team to find flow. This pick probably won’t get much pushback, but RMU is likely better than its clearcut last place standing indicates. An 0-4 record in overtime games can be an indicator of an inability to finish down the stretch, but the it also means that four plays going differently could’ve turned RMU from the last place team in the standings into one of just five teams with a winning Horizon League record.