HLMBB Power Rankings — Week 5

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In a week with so many underwhelming results, it would seem easy for a team to break through and make moves in the rankings. Unfortunately for everyone in the league, that didn’t happen and we’re left with a week of results that you really wish went a little better. A number of near-misses on nice wins and a handful of disappointing losses were the story of the week. At least the former was more of the story than the latter?

Here’s a look at this week’s Horizon League Power Rankings:

TeamRankPreviousChange
Purdue Fort Wayne11
Oakland22
Youngstown State33
Wright State44
Northern Kentucky55
Cleveland State67+1
Green Bay76-1
Milwaukee89+1
Robert Morris98-1
Detroit Mercy1010
IUPUI1111

Purdue Fort Wayne did go 2-0 this week, but definitely wouldn’t have against teams able to take advantage of the team’s slow starts. Purdue Fort Wayne opened the weak with a 70-57 victory against Southern Indiana. In terms of final score, the margin might be a little lower than what you’d like to see. The concerning part is the way the game opened, with PFW at one point trailing 20-8. PFW needed most of the second half to push the game out of reach. Saturday’s 89-80 win over Southeast Missouri State didn’t see quite the same early deficit, though the Mastodons trailed 33-24 in the first half. The team did take the lead and push it out to a relatively comfortable margin early in the second half. Still, a pair of underwhelming games against teams ranked just above IUPUI and Detroit Mercy in the NET rankings leave a lot to be desired. Right now, PFW is a notch above the rest of the league, but potential vulnerability keeps popping up. Anthony Roberts’ 17.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game were pivotal for the Mastodons.

Oakland earned a split in its efforts to avoid letting the Horizon League fall to 0-3 against two different MAC schools. The Golden Grizzlies had a chance to beat Toledo in the final seconds, but fell just short in a 69-68 loss. OU is the second time a Horizon League school fell to Toledo by a single point after Wright State’s 78-77 loss in the second week of the season. Oakland did turn around and win 77-63 at Eastern Michigan, doing exactly what you’d like to see from a team near the top of the league against an opponent like EMU. Trey Townsend struggled against Toledo, but still came away averaging 18.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game for the week.

Youngstown State picked up a pair of road wins over MAC opponents this week to keep its spot in the rankings, but both games were a little too close to justify a bump up the rankings. The Penguins played Ohio on Wednesday and came away with a 78-72 victory. I might be overthinking this one and punishing YSU for its own results, but if Cleveland State can beat Ohio at home then I fully expect the Youngstown State team that beat CSU by 25 to be able to handle Ohio on the road. With that said, it’s Saturday’s 72-68 win at Western Michigan that keeps the Penguins from taking advantage of Oakland’s loss. Western Michigan is currently playing like a team that’d be around ninth in the Power Rankings if they were in the Horizon League. A four-point victory is definitely underwhelming and would’ve been a loss against a more middle-of-the-pack opponent. Ziggy Reid averaged 17.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, highlighted by his 25-point performance against WMU.

Wright State couldn’t take advantage of an underwhelming week for the teams above it because the team’s only game was an 81-62 win over Bethel University of the NAIA. In my eyes, a game against that type of opponent can usually only hurt you in the rankings, but the Raiders avoided that fate. Trey Calvin had 20 points in the win.

Northern Kentucky being ranked right below Wright State in a week where it lost 62-59 to an Illinois State team that WSU beat by 25 two weeks prior feels like a decisive break in tiers among the league rankings right now. NKU looked like it was going to bounce back before a heartbreaking 77-76 loss to MAC contender Akron on Saturday, falling to 0-2 on the week. It should’ve been easy to drop NKU this week following that ISU result, but that’d mean justifying moving someone else up and there’s nobody obvious to do that for. Marques Warrick averaged 22.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, his 30-point outing on Saturday nearly being enough to take down the Zips.

Cleveland State played a pair of games that would’ve been massive victories for the Horizon League, and considering where they are in the Power Rankings it should be clear what their record was. There’s no shame in a 70-57 loss at Saint Mary’s, especially now that the Gaels turned around and beat nationally ranked Colorado State on Saturday. The 83-77 loss at MAC contender Kent State was an acceptable one for what’s currently a mid-tier Horizon League school. CSU gets the nod over a Green Bay team that took two much worse losses, but it was too hard to argue for the team to jump an NKU team that had more competitive losses even if that Saint Mary’s loss almost immediately looked a lot better. Tristan Enaruna’s 18.5 points led the way for the Vikings, but the more important player to highlight might be K.J. Debrick who was announced as out for the season.

Green Bay looked to be figuring it out last week with Clarence Cummings back in the lineup, but an 0-2 week against a pair of opponents that seem like they could’ve easily led to a 2-0 week results in a drop in the rankings. Wednesday’s 78-69 loss at SIU-Edwardsville was a little disappointing, but given that it was a road game against what seemed like a comparable opponent it would be hard to justify punishing Green Bay too much. Saturday’s 68-59 loss at home to Western Illinois? That’s a result that demands action. The Phoenix are lucky that the only team ranked below them to do anything this week was the Milwaukee team Green Bay beat by 12 one week earlier. Noah Reynolds continued to lead the way for the Phoenix, this week averaging 17.0 points per game and knocking down 62.5 percent of his shots.

Milwaukee moves up after going 1-1 this week, losing to St. Thomas on Wednesday before getting a bump for its last second road win against UC-Davis on Saturday. The 75-71 loss to the Tommies was a lot less competitive until the very end, with the Panthers trailing 51-31 at one point in the second half. But ultimately the final result was competitive enough that the only real punishment in this week’s rankings is that in addition to the Green Bay team right above Milwaukee beating the Panthers last week, the Phoenix also beat St. Thomas 64-51 a week before that. Saturday’s 81-79 win at UC-Davis was the only Division I win for a team outside the top three in the rankings this week, so at least some kind of bump feels justified. Erik Pratt stepped up in B.J. Freeman’s absence, averaging 17.5 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field.

Robert Morris lost its lone game of the week 87-80 at Canisius this week. In all honesty, it might not even justify a drop in the rankings as Canisius would probably be a good pick for fifth if they were in the Horizon League. While less of a moral victory than some of RMU’s early games, this is the kind of result you shrug and move on from. RMU slides a spot because at this point in the rankings, it makes sense to reward teams for road wins over seemingly better opponents. T.J. Wainwright led the Colonials with 19 points on 8-for-15 shooting.

Detroit Mercy is still searching for its first win of the season, but keeps out of last place in the rankings again after once again nearly pulling it off. Wednesday’s 68-65 loss to Ball State is an especially frustrating one for the Titans, as they were definitely the better team on the court until faltering late. Sunday’s 91-58 loss to Northwestern isn’t at all surprising considering the Wildcats were coming off of a win over top ranked Purdue. Marcus Tankersley averaged 17.0 point and 9.0 rebounds per game for the Titans on the week.

IUPUI seemed to have another shot at a win when taking on an Eastern Illinois team ranked around 300 in various analytics sites, but fell out of striking distance in the first half before losing 75-58. The Jaguars definitely don’t seem to be on the verge of taking the big step forward that everyone expected, and in fact are currently just a few spots higher than where last year ended. Jlynn Counter had a great night individually, scoring 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting, but nobody else finished with over 10 points.

1 COMMENT

  1. Another week, another disagreement from me. I love how this discussion has grown over the past weeks, and at this point you should have me as a guest speaker on the podcast. Hahah just kidding, but with PFW being in the #1 spot I can’t even complain. However, it feels like you are only putting us up there because “who else it is going to be” mentality, and not that we deserve it. You mentioned that we struggled in both games (which we did at the start), but we also won and covered in both games over the past week. The Southern Indiana away game was an in-state trap game, and I love how we rallied back and winners find ways to win. In the SEMO game, we only won by 9, but we also put 89 points on the scoreboard. If you do that, it doesn’t matter who you play you’ll win a lot of games with 89 points on the board. To me, it feels like you are putting a lot of pressure on “good wins / good loses” and “bad wins / bad loses” but it really doesn’t matter because in 2.5 weeks from now when league play starts, we’ll only be looking at the records. What I mean by this is if you win by 1 or by 10 the records will show a “W” no matter the margin. In your list, Oakland is overrated because yes they have the “moral victories” over Ohio State and Illinois, but at one point those moral victories fade and they’re still stained with the “L”. In case you’re wondering what my list looks like so you can disagree. Its exactly the horizon league’s standings list but with Robert Morris and IUPUI switched.

    Great read and keep up the good work!

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