Horizon League Women’s Basketball Power Rankings – Week 11


The biggest shakeup yet

The time has come, Norse fans! You’re back in the women’s basketball power rankings and…probably wishing you could’ve been back in last week instead. While NKU technically wasn’t eligible for the rankings last week due to playing less than half of league games, the Norse would’ve had an incredible argument for first place. That went away quickly with another high-profile matchup.

If the fact that there’s a number in every box of that last column on the chart didn’t give it away, I’ll go ahead and say it: this week in women’s basketball sent the power rankings into more chaos than the previous 10 weeks combined. Much of that was artificial due to NKU’s return, but a lot was because we’ve started to get the high-profile matchups after weeks of top teams stacking up wins against the middle and bottom of the league.

With NKU back in the rankings, every team that’s still playing is ranked this week.

Wright State Raiders14+3
Green Bay Phoenix23+1
IUPUI Jaguars32-1
Northern Kentucky Norse4N/AN/A
Milwaukee Panthers51-4
Cleveland State Vikings65-1
Oakland Golden Grizzlies76-1
Youngstown State Penguins 87-1
Robert Morris Colonials98-1
UIC Flames109-1
Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons1110-1

The biggest beneficiary of a week of chaos was Wright State, which has sole possession of first place after sweeping Milwaukee this weekend. The Raiders absolutely dominated both games in the weekend sweep and are now 2-0 against the rest of the top of the league. I’m still skeptical about that record, but you can’t deny the team that’s played a full slate of games and is alone in first has been elite. The last two weekends will put any questions about their schedule to rest when the Raiders play Northern Kentucky and Green Bay.

Green Bay got a marquee opponent and took advantage to leap into second place in this week’s rankings. The Phoenix swept Northern Kentucky and have now made it through the last two weeks 3-1 against the Norse and IUPUI. While we can’t overlook the Cleveland State loss, pulling off a sweep against a team that otherwise would’ve likely been first in these rankings is enough for a jump to second place.

IUPUI was punished this week because the team’s schedule didn’t give it an opportunity at a statement weekend like Green Bay got. The Jaguars came away with a pair of wins over UIC by double digits…because of course they did. IUPUI now prepares for its final scheduled weekend of the season against Youngstown State. With Detroit Mercy scheduled for Week 13, it looks like the Jaguars will only get to play that weekend if another team has a COVID-19 issue arise.

Northern Kentucky‘s ranking is likely going to be the most volatile of the top teams in the league for the last couple weeks of the season given how few games the Norse have played and that the remaining games on the schedule are against first place Wright State and an Oakland team that’s currently positioned for a first round bye in the Horizon League tournament.

With four straight losses, Milwaukee now finds itself at the bottom of the five teams that have established themselves as the class of the Horizon League. Despite the current Power Ranking standing, Milwaukee should actually be in a pretty good position to win the regular season title. While Oakland is no pushover and currently sits in fourth place in the standings the league released, OU and UIC present a much easier finish to league play than Wright State’s opponents Northern Kentucky and Green Bay.

With a losing record in league play, Cleveland State’s spot in the rankings could’ve been in play if the schedule broke down differently. The Vikings were slated to play Detroit Mercy this weekend, but had to swap the games out for a non-league matchup with Mercyhurst. Fortunately for CSU, Youngstown State and Oakland couldn’t make up much ground against winless Purdue Fort Wayne and ninth place Robert Morris.

My ranking of Oakland should make it clear that I’m not a fan of the formula the league is using to determine seeding for the Horizon League Tournament. The Golden Grizzlies are in fourth place in the league standings, seemingly mostly because the team has played all of its games. OU is still just a week removed from being swept by Cleveland State, so it’s going to take a marquee win or CSU losing for those rankings to switch.

Youngstown State completed a sweep this weekend, but as previously stated it was against a Purdue Fort Wayne team that’s 0-16 in league play and 0-18 overall. Part of Youngstown State’s problem is that it hasn’t had a chance to play the top teams in the league since starting its season off of a COVID-19 pause and being swept by Wright State. This weekend’s games against IUPUI could present a huge opportunity for the Penguins.

As has become the norm for the league’s bottom teams, Robert Morris was swept this weekend. They keep their spot because the two teams below them were also swept and because the Colonials’ two wins over Wright State suddenly look absolutely amazing.

Similar to RMU, UIC seems pretty well locked-in to its ranking one spot up from the bottom of the league. The Flames are holding this spot thanks to a win in December as well as some more competitive losses than last-place Purdue Fort Wayne. This Saturday UIC kept within 10 points of IUPUI, which spent the first half of league play obliterating its opponents.

Purdue Fort Wayne is still winless and has one single-digit loss this season. The Mastodons play Cleveland State and Robert Morris to close out the season, so there’s probably a better chance they’ll win than UIC which still has to play Milwaukee and Green Bay. Nonetheless, there’s little to suggest PFW will be able to get a win this year with no chances to play UIC or Detroit Mercy.

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