A part of me wants to hold off on future Power Rankings until this little stretch of Horizon League play. It’s so much easier to figure out how to compare teams when they’re actually playing one another instead of relying on the transitive property. Remember when IUPUI was above Green Bay because of how they both played against Valparaiso? Wild times!
On the other hand, non-league play seems like it’s starting to make sense this year. The first week of league games actually didn’t do too much to switch up the power rankings, with 10 of 11 teams moving 2 spots or less. In a league as tight as the Horizon League has been recently, that’s probably less movement than you’ll see in a week that happens in the middle of league play.
Here’s a look at this week’s winners and losers:
|Purdue Fort Wayne
Purdue Fort Wayne might need some catastrophic results to fall from the top spot anytime soon. Aside from the Depaul game to open the season, the Mastodons were getting practically all of their style points against non-Division I teams. That ended on Saturday, when PFW obliterated Oakland 98-77 with an impressive all-around effort. That win came on the heels of Wednesday’s 75-71 victory over Green Bay, which at the time called into question how good Purdue Fort Wayne really was but now bolster’s Green Bay in the rankings instead. Jalen Jackson was the most impressive of several strong PFW performers, averaging 18.0 points and 5.0 rebounds on 75% shooting from the field in the two games.
Oakland doesn’t drop too far in my mind, as their recent results prior to Saturday were clearly the best in the league in my eyes. Add to that the fact that none of the other teams have been putting up many results that lead me to believe they would’ve had a better fate against PFW, and the Golden Grizzlies remain in the top two. Aside from the beatdown at the hands of Purdue Fort Wayne, Oakland used an impressive second half defensive performance to comfortably beat Detroit Mercy 65-50 on Wednesday. Chris Conway didn’t have any performances that jumped off the page, but continued a stretch of steadily reliable post scoring and averaged 13.5 points per game since the last Power Rankings.
Youngstown State finally finds itself in a stretch of games that match its preseason expectations as a contender. Following last week’s close loss to Dayton, the Penguins rattled off a pair of easy wins to start league play. In what I would argue was the most impressive performance of the first night of league play, YSU beat fellow projected contender Cleveland State 94-69. Saturday’s 71-57 win over Robert Morris didn’t have the same impact, but was still exactly what a team near the top of the league should be doing to a team currently sitting closer to the bottom. Brett Thompson averaged 17.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in the league’s opening week.
Wright State won its lone Horizon League game 103-74 over IUPUI before falling 82-73 to Davidson in a non-league game on Saturday. Given that nobody else played a non-league road game since the last rankings, it’s difficult to knock WSU too much for that loss. Add to it that the Raiders had easily the more impressive win over IUPUI this week, and Wright State is slotted 4th this week. Tanner Holden was the obvious standout for WSU this week, averaging 20.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Northern Kentucky is the third team to go 2-0 to start Horizon League play, but lags behind a pair of teams that aren’t tied at the top of the league because the wins haven’t had the same impact. NKU won both games comfortably, with a 77-59 win over Robert Morris and a 71-55 win over IUPUI. Both are fine wins, but neither quite stacks up to some of the teams above them recently. Marques Warrick’s 24.5 points per game and NKU’s 2-0 week are very likely to result in the junior being named Horizon League Player of the Week.
Green Bay continues to look more and more like the team we were hoping they would be at the start of the year. After the near-miss to the new top team in the rankings, Green Bay comfortably beat archrival Milwaukee 70-58 who was playing without B.J. Freeman. Given that Milwaukee was already below Green Bay in the rankings last week with the expectation that Freeman would play, it’s actually the PFW game doing more to give the Phoenix a boost this week. Noah Reynolds continued to shine for Green Bay, averaging 16.5 points and 8.0 assists on the week.
Cleveland State was the week’s biggest mover this week, sliding three spots after the previously mentioned 25-point loss to Youngstown State. In its other game, CSU managed a 69-58 win over Detroit Mercy. While it’s possible the UDM result will turn out to be more like it’s near-win over Ole Miss, for the time being it’s an underwhelming win and the Vikings see a little dip in the rankings. While it wasn’t as eye-popping as some of his previous outputs, Tristan Enaruna continued to be a steady presence for CSU. Enaruna averaged 14.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this week.
Robert Morris showed some early potential with a series of competitive results against seemingly much stronger opposition, but at some point it’s hard to keep that logic without wins to back it up. The bit of clarity we got from this week’s pair of losses by 14 and 18 points indicate that the Colonials are pretty far from a Top 5 team in the league right now. Transfer Markeese Hastings was the biggest bright spot for RMU this week, averaging 14.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Milwaukee‘s only game this week was the 12-point road loss to Green Bay with B.J. Freeman sidelined. Given the results of the teams below Milwaukee, it’s not anything that would justify moving the Panthers down. With that said, if Freeman isn’t able to go soon there could be an argument that the Freeman-less Panthers could dip into the double digits. Markeith Browning had a career-high 25 points on 9-for-14 shooting in the loss.
Detroit Mercy is still searching for its first win after after losing to Oakland and Cleveland State, but that fact isn’t enough to drop the Titans to last as the margins weren’t particularly horrible. Jaden Stone was once again an impressive individual performer, averaging 22.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
IUPUI just can’t seem to figure it out. After starting off with an early 2-0 record and a win in its first game against D-I this year, the wheels already seem to have fallen off. This weeks losses by 16 and 29 points don’t lead to a lot of optimism, though the remaning non-league schedule does soften up aside from a game at Minnesota. Once again, it was Jlynn Counter leading the way for the Jaguars. He averaged 17.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.