#HLMBB Power Rankings — Week 3

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Are you sure I can’t just link to Matt’s Oakland recap?

After several teams anticipated to finish toward the top of the league offered up just a small sample size through the first two weeks of the season, Feast Week gave us a lot more information. Unfortunately, that information wasn’t good. While the first two weeks offered a number of near-misses against solid teams, the latest action took the wind out of the sails of everyone but Oakland. To date, the Golden Grizzlies are the only team with a KenPom Top 200 win, and they have five of those (with just a pair of Top-50 losses). Let’s not drag this out, it’s ugly.

I know ties technically shouldn’t be displayed this way, but here are the rankings:

TeamRankPreviousChange
Oakland11
Cleveland StateT-123-9
Detroit MercyT-125-7
Green BayT-1211-1
IUPUIT-1212
MilwaukeeT-128-4
Northern KentuckyT-124-8
Purdue Fort WayneT-127-5
Robert MorrisT-1210-2
UICT-126-6
Wright StateT-122-10
Youngstown StateT-129-3

This week, I’m very thankful for Oakland. The early season surprise is suddenly the only school in the Horizon League doing anything during non-league play. The Golden Grizzlies have 5 wins, with the least impressive of those coming against a team just outside of KenPom’s Top 150. Jamal Cain once again shined on his way to winning another Horizon League Player of the Week award. Cain averaged 23 points and 10.7 rebounds in three games to lead the Golden Grizzlies to the Gulf Coast Showcase championship.

The initial plan was to make the joke in the table, then list schools in the order I’d actually rank them. Cleveland State needed 39 minutes to put away Coppin State 65-62 and it seemed like they might take a dive if I chose to go the other route, but…at least they won? Regardless, after three or four teams it’s such a mess, I’m just going with alphabetical order. Torrey Patton put up 21 points and 10 rebounds to help CSU win its lone contest against Division I competition this week.

Detroit Mercy looked like it was trending upward despite a winless record and Noah Waterman’s absence, but the team laid an egg defensively and got run out of the gym by a Hofstra team that looked to be more beatable than its last several opponents. The Titans rallied back somewhat from a 24-point halftime deficit, but fell 98-84. Antoine Davis did have one of the more impressive offensive outings of his stellar career. He scored an efficient 39 points to go along with seven rebounds, eight assists and just two turnovers.

Not much has changed from last week’s assessment of Green Bay. The Phoenix beat Division III UW-Superior 77-48 in the team’s only game of the week, but Green Bay is still waiting for its first Division I win of the season. Manny Ansong led the team with 14 points and seven rebounds.

Like Green Bay, IUPUI moved out of the winless ranks this week. Also like Green Bay, it took a Division III opponent to get them there. The Jaguars cruised past Spalding University 61-41. Bakari LaStrap tallied 10 points to lead the way for IUPUI in a game where getting all nine dressed players into the action was clearly a priority.

With Pat Baldwin Jr. injured and Josh Thomas suspended, Milwaukee‘s disappointing season found a new way to take a turn for the worse. Losing to Yale and Bowling Green in the Fort Meyers Tip-Off wasn’t a surprise without Baldwin, but you’d hope the rest of the team had enough firepower to get past sub-300 opponent Alcorn State. DeAndre Gholston averaged 16.3 points and 4 rebounds for the Panthers, but obviously he’s going to need help if the team expects to compete with even below average opponents for the time being.

Northern Kentucky is one of the few teams that might actually deserve to be out of the 11-way tie, but with its lone D-I win coming at the buzzer against KenPom number 275 Eastern Michigan that’s a reality I’m not ready to accept. This week the Norse fought hard against DePaul and realistically should’ve beaten a Western Illinois team that’s playing uncharacteristically well this year, but the team still came away 0-2. Sam Vinson took home another Freshman of the Week award after averaging 10.5 points, 5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

Purdue Fort Wayne came close to bringing home the first non-Oakland Top 200 win of the season before falling 85-78 at Florida Gulf Coast. That hurt to type. One serious bright spot for PFW in the early part of the season has been Ra Kpedi. The senior scored 15 points and added 12 rebounds against FGCU. He’s averaging 13.2 points and 7.7 rebonds per game for the Mastodons on the year.

Robert Morris fell 88-70 on Saturday to a Davidson team expected to finish in the top half of the Atlantic 10. The result doesn’t really move the needle either way, but it means the Colonials will have to wait at least another week for a Division I win. Kahliel Spear put up 15 points and 9 rebounds for RMU in the loss.

A recurring theme for this week’s Power Rankings is comparing losses and figuring out whose were the least awful. All things considered, UIC did alright on that front. The Flames were relatively competitive against a Top 200 San Diego team and Hawai’i ranked just outside of the Top 200. Nonetheless, they were 0-2 against two teams you’d like to see a Horizon League team beat in a year where things are going reasonably well for more than one team. Damaria Franklin continued to lead the way for UIC, averaging 17 points and 6.5 rebounds in the Las Vegas Classic.

After a decent performance against Marshall in Week 2 gave me some hope, the wheels fell off for Wright State last week. First, the Raiders dropped a contest against sub-250 opponent George Washington. Then came a 78-76 heartbreaker against a James Madison that is at least expected to contend for a CAA title. Finally the Raiders took a sub-300 loss to Long Beach State, falling 85-76.

A part of me wanted to rank Youngstown State second for having the good sense to take this disaster of a week off, but the last time we saw them they were squeaking past a team of players recruited to play at the Division III level and losing to SIU-Edwardsville. Clearly this trainwreck has been in the works for more than one week.

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