Horizon League Power Rankings (January 11-17)

The Horizon League holds steady at 11th in Conference RPI this week.

This week, we have a new leader atop the power rankings for the fourth time this year.

In descending order…

10. UIC (Overall Record: 4-14, Conference Record: 0-7, RPI: 263)

Recent Results: Lost to Milwaukee 87-75, Lost to Green Bay 74-50

With another week comes another winless streak.  To add insult to injury, junior guard Zavion Neely, was ruled academically ineligible for the spring semester.  This is a huge blow to a team already seemingly short at guard.

Up Next: Saturday at Loyola (11-8)

9. Youngstown State (5-10, 1-6, 243)

Recent Results: Beat Wilberforce 86-51, Lost to Cleveland State 61-51

The Penguins are clearly in the bottom tier of this league that includes only UIC.  At this point, they should be focused on the guys who will be key contributors next year and developing them to be contenders in this league.  Right now, that’s not what the Penguins are.

Up Next: Thursday vs. Wright State (10-7)

8. Loyola (11-8, 2-6, 187)

Recent Results: Lost to Green Bay 71-68, Beat Milwaukee 71-65

At this point, you can probably interchange Loyola with any of the next three teams on this list.  They played Green Bay close at the Resch Center, then went into the Cell and took down the Panthers.  Winning in Milwaukee was huge, because they should be able to manufacture a nice little winning streak here traveling to UIC and Youngstown State.

Up Next: Saturday vs. UIC (4-14)

7. Milwaukee (9-10, 4-4, 149)

Recent Results: Beat UIC 87-75, Lost to Loyola 71-65

If their recent stretch of games is any indicator, they’ll probably beat Valpo and then lose to Butler.  In their last 10 games, they’ve alternated wins and losses with not even a 2 game streak of consistency.  They could really use a little of that senior leadership that departed when Ricky Franklin graduated.

Up Next: Friday at Valparaiso (12-5)

Alec Brown has a bright future in Title Town.

6. Green Bay (9-9, 4-3, 161)

Recent Results: Beat Loyola 71-68, Beat UIC 74-50

Green Bay is getting better, which is more you can say for any of the teams below them in the rankings.  If not for Ray McCallum, Alec Brown might be the Freshman of the Year in the Horizon League.  On top of that, Rahmon Fletcher and Bryquis Perine have stepped their game up.

Up Next: Friday at Butler (12-6)

5. Detroit (9-9, 4-3, 178)

Recent Results: Lost to Butler 87-64, Lost to Valparaiso 78-68

Butler showed the Titans just how tough life is without Eli Holman.  Butler’s forwards outscored Detroit’s 48-9.  The Titans would be an afterthought in the Horizon League without their big man in the middle.  Ray McCallum didn’t care much for Ronald Nored’s defense either (3 points, 3 rebounds, 0 assists, 2 turnovers).

Up Next: Thursday at Cleveland State (14-3)

4. Wright State (10-7, 5-2, 105)

Recent Results: Lost to Valparaiso 71-60, Beat Butler 69-64

The Raiders are serious contenders in the Horizon League.  Losing to Valpo was tough, but they rebounded quite nicely against Butler at home.  They’ll follow that up though with four straight road games including Cleveland State and Milwaukee, who they have a really hard time with in US Cellular Arena.

Up Next: Friday at Youngstown State (5-10)

3. Butler (12-6, 5-2, 26)

Recent Results: Beat Detroit 87-64, Lost to Wright State 69-64

The Bulldogs went out and did exactly what I said they shouldn’t.  They lost to a team they should beat.  They are now behind Valparaiso AND Wright State in the standings and if the season ended today, they’d find themselves without a first round bye.  Fortunately for them there’s over a month yet to play, but they’ll have a target on their back the entire time.  

Up Next: Friday vs. Green Bay (9-9)

2. Cleveland State (14-3, 5-2, 27)

Recent Results: Beat Youngstown State 61-51

The Vikings have a favorable league schedule the rest of the season.  They’ll play Valpo and Butler at home and their next four games are either at home or against bottom dwellers.  Norris Cole very well could be the Horizon League player of the year.

Up Next: Thursday vs. Detroit (9-9)

Homer Drew and the Valpo Crusaders were a great addition to the Horizon League.

1. Valparaiso (12-5, 6-1, 48)

Recent Results: Beat Wright State 61-50, Beat Detroit 78-68

Can you believe that the Crusaders are the BEST defensive team in the Horizon League?  No team has improved their defense more from last season to this, and it’s a credit to coach Homer Drew.  John Templon of ChicagoNOW goes into detail here.  All hail the Crusaders!

Up Next: Friday vs. Milwaukee (9-10)

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