#HLMBB Power Rankings —Tournament Quarterfinals


All it took for some stability was taking a week off

We’re back from an Awards Week-induced hiatus with the smallest combined men’s and women’s Power Rankings of the season. Following the first round of the Horizon League Tournament, there are eight teams playing for the league’s automatic berth.

Because all postseason tournaments except the NCAA Tournament and the NIT have been called off, everyone but Wright State and Cleveland State will be knocked out of the rankings with a loss. CSU may be dropped with a loss as well, as it sounds like the NIT will have just 16 teams and no auto-bids, but reporting has been somewhat mixed at this point.

Beyond teams rising up the ranks due to eliminations, nothing has really changed since two weeks ago.

Wright State Raiders11
Cleveland State Vikings22
Detroit Mercy Titans33
Northern Kentucky Norse44
Youngstown State Penguins56+1
Oakland Golden Grizzlies67+1
Milwaukee Panthers79+2
Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons812+4
*Yeah yeah, it’s been two weeks. Whatever.

Since the last Power Rankings, Wright State split a series against Northern Kentucky and had a bye last weekend. The Raiders kept a comfortable hold on the top spot thanks to CSU failing to take advantage of the WSU loss. Wright State kicks off its Horizon League Tournament on Tuesday at 7 PM Eastern against Milwaukee.

The reason Cleveland State wasn’t able to jump Wright State after the Raiders faltered against NKU is that CSU was also unable to get through its final series of the weekend unscathed. The Vikings were beaten on the inside by Purdue Fort Wayne, a team typically reliant on its outside scoring. After a week off, the Vikings will get a third consecutive game against PFW on Tuesday.

Detroit Mercy is the first team in this week’s rankings that actually played last week. The Titans have been absolutely on fire since returning from a COVID-19 related pause. Now 11-2 since the team’s return, Detroit is rolling thanks to First Team All-League pick Antoine Davis. Davis broke Horizon League Tournament records for scoring and 3-pointers with 46 points and 10 makes from long range in an 83-73 win over Robert Morris. The Titans come into this week’s game against Northern Kentucky off of three straight victories against the Colonials.

Northern Kentucky earned a split with top-ranked Wright State two weeks ago, a bye into the quarterfinals and still wasn’t able to jump Detroit Mercy in the last two weeks because of just how red-hot the Titans have been. As mentioned, NKU does have an opportunity to prove me wrong at 7 PM Eastern on Tuesday.

With a win over UIC, Youngstown State moved to 6-1 in its last seven Horizon League games. The Penguins’ late-season tear got the team all the way to the six seed and a home game in Horizon League the tournament after a 4-10 start to league play. That late surge gives the Penguins the edge in this week’s rankings, but tomorrow the Golden Grizzlies can prove me wrong on the court.

We’re finally done with teams that earned byes this week. Oakland earned the 3-seed in the league tournament despite a 10-10 league record thanks to the Horizon League’s formula that considered games played, home/away results, strength of schedule, and win percentage. Since our last rankings, Oakland split with Milwaukee. The Golden Grizzlies are 5-5 in the second half of the season and went 2-4 in the last three weeks of the regular season.

After splitting with Oakland, Milwaukee surprised our whole panel (well…except one incredibly smart guy) last week to beat a surging IUPUI and advance to play March basketball. As a reward, the Panthers get to take on a Wright State team that tied for the Horizon League regular season crown and finished well ahead of the league according to most metrics. Despite a February win streak that has been hard to come by in recent years, Milwaukee remains seventh in the rankings thanks to the 1-6 run the team had leading into the last two games.

The best game of the first round featured Purdue Fort Wayne upsetting Green Bay in the 7-10 matchup. The Mastodons advanced in a double overtime thriller that featured one of the best plays of the season with a Jalon Pipkins banked-in 3-pointer to force the second overtime period. Still, the Mastodons had just one win in the second half of the season. Against a Cleveland State team that surely wants to make sure everyone knows it was a fluke on Tuesday.

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