#HLMBB Power Rankings — Week 9

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No, YOU’RE losing your mind!

The Horizon League needs to start figuring itself out. Five games into the Horizon League schedule, there are no undefeated teams left. Eight of the 11 teams have winning records in league play and are within a game of first place. This season is clearly shaping up to be one where disagreement reigns over the rankings, and we all have seven more weeks of being angry at them to look forward to.

It didn’t seem possible to top the parity of last season, but a 6-way tie for a 2-seed doesn’t seem out of the question right now. If you’re disappointed that your team’s not higher at any point this season, wait 3 days. Either you won’t have any reason to be disappointed anymore, or they’ll be moving up 5 slots.

Even the team that had been willing its way to wins over inferior competition no matter the margin was finally taken out.

It’s starting to feel like this could be a season where the league actually does beat preseason prognosticators’ expectations, but still finds itself playing in Dayton in March as the entire league cannibalizes itself.

Disclaimer: the above does not apply to Robert Morris, IUPUI, or Detroit Mercy. Thank you for all you’re doing.

Anyway, rant over. Here are the rankings:

Purdue Fort Wayne would’ve been in the disclaimer above until it lost to Wright State 106-98 on Saturday. Fortunately for the Mastodons — and for me, if we’re being honest — that game was the second part of an impressive bounce back for the Raiders after an 0-2 trip to Wisconsin the week prior. With WSU solidifying its spot as a team it’s completely understandable to lose to, Purdue Fort Wayne keeps the top spot. Quinten Morton-Robertson scored 26 points while hitting half his shots from the field and 42.9 percent from 3-point range against Wright State.

Cleveland State is the pick for second in the Power Rankings this week. Winner of five of its last six, the Vikings appeared to be headed for a lower spot after Thursday’s 82-70 loss to Wright State. But the Raiders turned around and pulled off the road win over Purdue Fort Wayne and CSU bounced back with an 88-85 overtime win against Northern Kentucky on Sunday. Tae Williams posted a pair of solid games for the Vikings, averaging 13.0 points and 9.0 rebounds.

Oakland sits in third place in the Power Rankings after three straight wins over teams that are in close competition with the Golden Grizzlies for this spot. This week, the Golden Grizzlies hosted the Wisconsin schools and came away with a pair of fairly close victories. Oakland won a chaotic 100-95 contest over Milwaukee on Thursday, then turned around and defeated Green Bay 79-73 on Saturday. Trey Townsend averaged 28.0 points and 9.5 rebounds

Green Bay beat Detroit Mercy two days before the Oakland loss, pushing its already drastically improved 2023-24 win total higher. The Phoenix are 3-1 since Horizon League play resumed and definitely look poised to finish the year with a winning record over Division I just a season after going 3-29 at the level. Preston Ruedinger was the only Green Bay player to score double digits in both games, averaging 12.0 points and 2.5 rebounds for the week.

Milwaukee started the season in incredibly underwhelming fashion. While B.J. Freeman missing seven games didn’t help, the team looked off even before then. Recently though, the team is playing completely differently. The Panthers have won five of their last seven, three against teams with winning records. This week’s five-point road loss to Oakland hardly signaled a change in the Panthers’ recent play, and Saturday’s 84-61 win over Detroit Mercy strengthened the argument that the Panther team we’re seeing recently is a different one than what we saw to start the season. Kentrell Pullian averaged 18.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game during the road split.

Wright State was being discussed as potentially falling to eighth or ninth in the Power Rankings on the New Year’s Day podcast and on Twitter, but quickly put an end to that talk by beating the top two teams in the Power Rankings. The Raiders are now a game out of first place and hold the most impressive victory in league play, which could come in handy during the league tournament. Brandon Noel led the Raiders with 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.

Youngstown State gets a bad break in the Power Rankings this week, sitting in seventh place despite going 6-2 in its last eight games against Division I opponents. The Penguins haven’t won a potential statement game since going into Ohio over a month ago, After Thursday’s loss to Northern Kentucky, the Penguins beat IUPUI 75-65 on Sunday. It wouldn’t be a shock for YSU to wind up back near the top of the rankings next week, and with home games against Purdue Fort Wayne and Wright State there’ll be plenty of opportunity for it. Brett Thompson’s 15.0 points and 5.0 assists per game led the way for YSU this week.

Northern Kentucky‘s drop to eighth in the Power Rankings might be a little unfair. The Norse beat the team directly in front of them in the rankings this week, but did it at home by one possession. That’s the type of game that quickly becomes a loss in a road or neutral venue. And it’s true that their loss this week was a 3-point road loss in overtime, but Cleveland State’s recent results have been far more impressive than NKU’s. For whatever consolation it’s worth, Marques Warrick’s 29.5 points per game this week would make him my pick for Player of the Week despite the overtime loss.

Robert Morris might only be a half game up on IUPUI in the standings, but after this week it’s going to take a lot for the Colonials to drop in the Power Rankings anytime soon. In its only game this week, RMU beat IUPUI 92-48. Markeese Hastings had 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting and 8 rebounds for Robert Morris in a balanced team effort that led to the dominating win.

IUPUI might find itself stuck in tenth for a little while unless it can pull of a big win or two pretty quickly. The week after the Jlynn Counter-less Jaguars easily beat Detroit to get out of the bottom of the rankings, the Robert Morris game happened. IUPUI looked significantly better against Youngstown State, but losing to the team above you by 44 points and failing to come home with a win is a surefire way to keep from rising in the Power Rankings. Vincent Brady averaged 15.0 points and 5.5 rebounds for the Jaguars this week.

Detroit Mercy fell to 0-17 this week, and unless something crazy happens — or Robert Morris used up all its offense for the month — it could be awhile before the Titans have a shot to get out of the winless ranks. UDM hasn’t finished within 10 points of a Horizon League foe in any of its six games. It hasn’t kept within 10 points of anybody in over a month. That game against Ole Miss has to be one of the more confusing results all season. Donovann Toatley averaged 15.0 points per game this week.

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