We weren’t consulted on the formula
The Horizon League’s official Tournament seeding and our Power Rankings might never be more at odds than they are right now. With the league seemingly making Horizon League games played its biggest factor in the standings while these rankings weigh recent wins and strength of schedule, it was bound to happen.
There wasn’t much movement in the rankings this week, and I might’ve made a little too much movement artificially, but here it is:
|Wright State Raiders||1||1||–|
|Green Bay Phoenix||2||2||–|
|Cleveland State Vikings||4||6||+2|
|Northern Kentucky Norse||5||4||-1|
|Oakland Golden Grizzlies||7||7||–|
|Youngstown State Penguins||8||8||–|
|Robert Morris Colonials||9||9||–|
|Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons||11||11||–|
Early in the season, it was hard to get a good read on Wright State. The Raiders had an impressive record, but hadn’t played any of the league’s top teams. The last two weeks put an end to that; the Raiders went 4-0 against Milwaukee and Northern Kentucky and now appear destined for the top seed in the Horizon League Tournament. While this weekend’s matchup between WSU and Green Bay will have significant impact on the next Power Rankings, Wright State has done more than enough for the top spot for now.
Green Bay cruised to a pair of wins over UIC this weekend. It’s not the type of marquee win that was going to elevate the Phoenix closer to Wright State, but it’s hard to knock a team for 24 and 25-point wins. That’s especially true since the Flames have had a number of fairly close games in recent weeks. With all of that in mind, Green Bay keeps last week’s spot in the Power Rankings.
IUPUI also pulled off a sweep to maintain last week’s spot in the rankings. The Jaguars beat Youngstown State twice, albeit by smaller margins than they were beating the rest of the league early in the season. But again, the Jaguars look like a team that could be a top contender for the Horizon League Tournament Title. With IUPUI originally scheduled to play Detroit Mercy this week, the Jaguars’ regular season is over.
Okay, this is probably my overreaction of the week, but Cleveland State skyrockets to fourth in the power rankings with a weekend sweep of Purdue Fort Wayne plus Northern Kentucky losing four in a row and Milwaukee splitting with an Oakland team that hasn’t looked like it belonged in the upper echelon all year. The Vikings have won five straight Horizon League games.
Northern Kentucky lost two more games after Preseason All-League guard Ally Niece went down with a season-ending injury. I’m reluctant to punish a team that looked so good until the last two weeks when the losses might just be the result of playing the top teams in the Horizon League in those games. But NKU is now just 2-4 in Horizon League play since a December 20 win over Purdue Fort Wayne, so it’s hard to get a good read.
Milwaukee split with Oakland, which is enough to argue they can stay above the Golden Grizzlies in the Power Rankings since they seemed to be in a better overall position all weekend, but the team falls again because it hasn’t looked like the same one that jumped out to a 12-0 start to Horizon League play. The Panthers are just 1-5 in the last three weekends. All of the losses were to solid opponents, but it’s impossible to deny Milwaukee’s recent slide.
Oakland was on the other side of the weekend split that cemented Milwaukee’s slide as a problem, but the Golden Grizzlies don’t have the quality wins necessary to jump Milwaukee at this point. That’s especially true since Oakland needed a late surge in Friday’s 83-82 overtime win or they would’ve been swept.
Youngstown State has a chance to make me look foolish for putting a team that’s 7-7 in Horizon League play four spots higher than the 8-6 Penguins. Before last weekend’s sweep at the hands of IUPUI, YSU won eight of its previous nine games. With that said, the best win in that run was against seventh ranked Oakland.
Robert Morris remains ranked where it was last week because nobody behind the Colonials made a move and RMU had the week off thanks to a previously scheduled set of games against Detroit Mercy.
UIC stood little chance against heavy preseason favorite IUPUI this weekend, but with the lack of balance between the top and bottom of the league this year that just means the Flames stay put in tenth place this week. This week likely won’t go too much better, as despite Milwaukee’s struggles the team has had no problem against schools like Detroit Mercy and Purdue Fort Wayne this year.
Purdue Fort Wayne definitely didn’t see its first season in the Horizon League playing out quite like this. The Mastodons are still winless, likely thanks in part to not getting to play either UIC or Detroit Mercy. While the team lost a number of seniors from last year’s squad, moving from the Summit League – which sent two teams to the NCAA Tournament in 2019 – to the Horizon League figured to make for an easier season. Obviously that hasn’t been the case.