#HLMBB Power Rankings —Tournament Semifinals


What surprise? That’s totally how I thought it’d go!

Aaaaaaand welcome…to the second Power Rankings of the week?

Tuesday was so intense it had the Horizon League featured heavily on SportsCenter and had college basketball fans proposing it was the greatest day any conference tournament has ever had. We’ll be incredibly lucky if the three remaining games bring half the fun that the quarterfinals did.

Outside of teams dropping out of the rankings, one thing they don’t bring is a drastic change to the rankings. With one exception that’s only on the list still thanks to a strong overall body of work, incredibly close games across the board mean little movement.

A quick note: I mentioned last week that CSU might stay in depending on how the NIT decided to run this year. With no autobids, the Vikings are out of the rankings with a loss.

Cleveland State Vikings12+1
Northern Kentucky Norse24+2
Oakland Golden Grizzlies36+3
Milwaukee Panthers47+3
Wright State Raiders51-4

Cleveland State takes a commanding lead on first place in this week’s Power Rankings thanks to Wright State’s stunning loss to Milwaukee. Despite nearly losing two times in three games against 10-seed Purdue Fort Wayne, the Vikings have a five-game regular season lead in the win column on second ranked Northern Kentucky. Plus, that Purdue Fort Wayne game might go down as the best game we see all month. It’s hard to knock CSU too badly after they found a way to win it. The Vikings now play 8-seed Milwaukee in the semifinals on Monday.

Northern Kentucky was the lone team to escape with a win on Tuesday that didn’t require overtime, but that doesn’t mean the win swas stress-free. The Norse beat Detroit Mercy 70-69 on a David Böhm putback as time expired. At the time, I think everyone figured it was going to be the highlight of the night’s action. Whoops. Now the Norse get 3-seed Oakland on Monday.

Heading into Tuesday’s action, Oakland‘s matchup with 6-seed Youngstown State was the toughest to decide, so it was easily the least surprising to see go to overtime. As a result, a really fun game was completely overshadowed when there are several weekends where it would have been the highlight. With the Golden Grizzlies sneaking past a team that was ranked a spot ahead of them, they hold serve this week as they get ready for NKU on Monday.

Eight seed Milwaukee pulled off the most unlikely comeback of the season on Tuesday, overcoming a 24-point deficit against Horizon League co-champion Wright State with 6:15 to play and winning in overtime. According to KenPom, it’s one of the two least likely upsets since the site began collecting data in 2002. Before Tuesday, the Panthers had the previous least likely comeback of the season with a win over Cleveland State in which Milwaukee overcame a 14-point deficit with 2:46 to play against the Vikings. The Panthers are obviously hoping that this nationally televised Cleveland State matchup is more like that comeback that aired on ESPN+ and less like the nationally televised game a day before where the Vikings got out to a 24-2 lead and Milwaukee spent most of its energy working a comeback.

Alright, this is awkward. While Wright State remains in the rankings because it’s still possible their season will continue in the NIT, it’s really hard to rank them above the Milwaukee team that just ended their shot at an NCAA Tournament appearance and still has NCAA Tournament hopes of its own. With the other three teams having very strong arguments to remain above the Panthers, that means WSU is stuck in fifth in this week’s power rankings despite the likelihood that they’ll have a sizable advantage over the rest of the remaining field in virtually all metrics.

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