Stability on top, chaos throughout
Wright State’s stranglehold on first place in the power rankings increased when Cleveland State lost on ESPNU on Friday. With the WSU sweep and Cleveland State’s split with previously third place Detroit Mercy, there was no movement at the top of the power rankings. But after the top four things got crazy thanks to some teams previously near the bottom of the rankings pulling off sweeps while the middle continued to struggle.
|Wright State Raiders||1||1||–|
|Cleveland State Vikings||2||2||–|
|Detroit Mercy Titans||3||3||–|
|Northern Kentucky Norse||4||4||–|
|Youngstown State Penguins||6||9||+3|
|Oakland Golden Grizzlies||7||5||-2|
|Green Bay Phoenix||8||8||–|
|Robert Morris Colonials||11||12||+1|
|Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons||12||11||-1|
Wright State had its fourth straight weekend sweep in the second half of the weekend. The Raiders are tied with Cleveland State for the best record in the league, but haven’t lost since the Friday game with CSU. Additionally, WSU is over 100 spots higher than anyone in the league in the NET rankings.
Cleveland State had enough of a lead on the rest of the league to stay in second following a split with Detroit Mercy. If Matt’s prediction on the podcast that nobody in the league was going to beat another team four times proves true, this spot would become vulnerable as CSU plays Purdue Fort Wayne this weekend.
Detroit Mercy lost its first game in 2021, but did so against first-place Cleveland State. As a result, the Titans’ first loss of the new year comes in a weekend that actually helps legitimize it as a threat down the stretch. Prior to this weekend, 9-9 Oakland was the only team the Titans beat in league play they didn’t have a losing Horizon League record.
Northern Kentucky split with Green Bay, with a Friday overtime affair marking NKU’s lone loss in its last four weekends. Like the Titans heading into the weekend, there are still questions about the Norse and whether the recent run is due to improvement or a weaker schedule. Nonetheless, 7-1 through the last eight games warrants a strong spot in the power rankings.
Northern Kentucky stayed fourth in the rankings despite a loss thanks in part to the middle of the league suffering worse weekends. On the other end of things, IUPUI wound up the biggest beneficiary. The Jaguars swept UIC and in the process skyrocketed to fifth this week. Since being swept by Wright State, the Jaguars have gone 4-2.
Youngstown State is the other team that made a significant jump in the rankings thanks to being on the winning side of a weekend sweep this week. The Penguins swept Purdue Fort Wayne this week to move to four straight wins in Horizon League play. With that said, wins over Robert Morris and PFW aren’t convincing arguments that the Penguins will threaten the top of the league right now.
Oakland had a great opportunity to move up this week with continued slumps from Milwaukee and UIC. But the Golden Grizzlies fell to a Robert Morris team just hours removed from the announcement they all-everything forward A.J. Bramah would be leaving the team. As a result, OU falls in this week’s rankings.
If there’s an example of how close the middle of the league is, it should be that Green Bay and Northern Kentucky played one of the most competitive series of the season with one ranked fourth and the other eighth. With that said, the Phoenix are 2-4 in the last three weeks. For now, they’ll remain at the bottom of the league’s middle tier.
Milwaukee’s losing streak continued this weekend, prompting a further slide in the Power Rankings. With that said, this was easily the most palatable weekend of the losing streak. The Panthers were relatively competitive with Wright State in both games, making them the only team that can say that all season. Still, at some point Milwaukee needs to get some actual wins.
One of the main things protecting Milwaukee from a bigger slide has been UIC going through an even bigger slump. The Flames looked like a potential contender early but are now losers of seven straight heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
Robert Morris seemingly should’ve stayed in last with the loss of A.J. Bramah, but the shorthanded Colonials beat Oakland this weekend while Purdue Fort Wayne is still looking for its first win of the second half of the Horizon League season.
As mentioned, Purdue Fort Wayne‘s season has spun out of control since the Mastodons had a .500 record halfway through league play. Now at 5-13, PFW hasn’t won a game since. And things don’t get easier this week, with a matchup against first place Cleveland State.