A light slate of games put several teams in the position where it was hard to punish them for losses because they were obviously overmatched, and at the same time hard to reward the many wins that came against non-Division I opponents. There were a limited number of games where a likely result was going to cause movement in the rankings, and yet there was a pretty substantial amount of movement in the rankings. In my eyes, there’s not a lot separating just about the entire league. Here’s a look at how this week shook out:
|Purdue Fort Wayne||2||5||+3|
Youngstown State‘s case to remain the top team in the rankings looked a little shaky Friday night when the Penguins hosted Southern. YSU trailed 42-35 at halftime before figuring things out, leading by as many as 10 en route to an 85-81 victory. While it’s not the prettiest thing in the world, Southern isn’t a terrible opponent. The Jaguars entered the game 4-6 with a road win over a Cal team that at least theoretically has some Power Conference talent. Dwayne Cohill had 26 points and six assists for the Penguins in the win.
Purdue Fort Wayne makes a big jump in this week’s rankings by doing the smart thing and taking some time off. While I promise that the Horizon League results are still carrying significant weight, the Mastodons are riding a nice 3-game win streak while many others around them have had a recent run of losses.
Dropping Cleveland State feels a little harsh given that I’m not sure PFW would’ve fared better in its last three games than the Vikings did, but that’s where that line about a recent run of losses comes into play. CSU nearly managed to fight all the way back after an anemic start on Sunday against a good Loyola Marymount team before falling 70-59. The Vikings trailed 49-29 with 14:15 to play before battling all the way back to a 7-point deficit with just under four minutes remaining, but the early struggles were too much to overcome. On the heels of the 0-2 week last week, CSU is in the midst of a skid. It’s an understandable one, but it’s still a three-game losing streak. Deshon Parker stood out for the Vikings in the loss, scoring 15 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists.
Northern Kentucky‘s 64-61 home win over Eastern Kentucky wasn’t the most inspiring victory, but it was a Division I win in a week where those were hard to come by. Moreover, it was a win by a team that has taken care of business to be 2-0 in Horizon League play. While it hasn’t always been pretty, NKU has won four of its last five against Division I competition, which warrants a nice ranking. In the win, Xavier Rhodes had the best game of his Division I career, scoring a D-I career high 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting.
I’m a little hesitant to put Robert Morris this high given its pre-Horizon League play struggles, but the Colonials genuinely look like they might’ve found a groove. RMU would’ve been sizable underdogs against former NEC rival Mount St. Mary’s on a neutral court, so the fact that the Colonials were able to go on the road and come away with a 68-59 win is grounds for a nice bump in the rankings. Josh Corbin was out of his mind, hitting six of his 11 3-point attempts and finishing with 20 points for Robert Morris in the victory.
Like Purdue Fort Wayne, Milwaukee makes moves in this week’s poll following a week off. Milwaukee’s overall resume is very nice, but the recent play against drastically inferior competition leaves me wanting to see more in order to move the Panthers up further. Either that or they can sit and watch as everyone else around them loses.
Detroit Mercy puts me in a weird spot in the Power Rankings after it gave Eastern Michigan its first win over a Horizon League foe in three tries. UDM’s not that far removed from beating second ranked Purdue Fort Wayne, but PFW easily did away with Eastern. Making things much more difficult, an Oakland team we won’t see for a little bit in these rankings was also able to top the Eagles. Even though the game was on the road, it’s really one you would’ve liked to see a team in the top half of the league pull out. Antoine Davis tried to will the Titans to victory in a game where they trailed by double-digits, scoring 30 points on 10-for-23 shooting and putting a circus shot 3-pointer on the rim as time expired in the 79-77 loss.
I gave Wright State the benefit of the doubt for an 0-2 start to Horizon League play because the Raiders’ non-league play made them a strong contender for my top spot heading into the weekend. Then I gave them a pass for another loss because Western Kentucky looked like a borderline Top 100 team and a 4-point road loss looked like a nice result. In a vaccuum Wright State’s 66-54 loss to perennial MAC contender Akron isn’t the worst, but like with some teams higher in these rankings the continued string of losses can’t be ignored. To make things worse, Western Kentucky wound up drastically devaluing itself by showing it’s the type of team that can lose by double digits to Louisville. Again, it’s a weird situation as a team Wright State beat is the one devaluing the WKU loss, but Louisville showed there clearly wasn’t as large a gap as believed between Wright State and the Hilltoppers. As far as what WSU actually did on the court this week, Trey Calvin once again shined offensively against Akron, hitting half his shots while scoring a team-leading 16 points.
Oakland continued it’s stretch of games where I’m going to have a hard time holding anything against the team given its spot in the rankings on Sunday, falling to a 10-2 Boise State team by a score of 77-57. If there’s one reason I might consider moving Oakland down it’s that they’re presently without All-League point guard Jalen Moore, but I’d take Trey Townsend over anyone on the two teams ranked below OU by a wide margin. Townsend scored 30 and grabbed eight rebounds against the Broncos, an effort that in my opinion should make him Horizon League Player of the Week despite the blowout loss
Green Bay went out to the west coast for a pair of games against Pac 12 opponents and…it’s safe to say that if they had won either, they would not be ranked tenth in a Horizon League Power Ranking. On Friday, Stanford absolutely obliterated the Phoenix 85-40, which almost made Sunday’s 65-56 loss to Oregon State feel like a massive indictment of the Beavers. Given the nature of Friday’s result posting averages is going to be horribly skewed, so I’ll just point out that Clarence Cummings had a very nice game against OSU with 16 points on 6-for-13 shooting while also leading the team with 7 rebounds.
IUPUI had what was on paper an even better chance at a first Division I win of the year than last week’s Green Bay game. On Saturday, the Jaguars hosted an Eastern Illinois team that is also still looking for a first Division I win and playing without its leader in scoring and assists Kinyon Hodges. After a solid start saw the Jaguars ahead 28-26 at halftime, the team couldn’t knock down shots and fell 70-59. The game might’ve been more lopsided if not for Chris Osten’s four offensive rebounds and 7-for-8 shooting performance. Osten’s 15 points matched a career high against Division I competition, with his 19 points on 9-for-10 shooting against Spalding on Monday marking the career high against any competition.