Horizon League Power Rankings (February 22 – 28)

The Horizon League holds steady in the conference RPI ranks remaining ahead of the Missouri Valley Conference for 11th this week.

In descending order…

10. UIC (Overall Record: 6-23, Conference Record: 2-16, RPI: 288)

Recent Results: Lost to Valparaiso 79-65

The season is drawing to a close for the Flames.  A couple bright lights on a dim season:  Senior F Paul Carter – Finished on the all-newcomer team averaging 14.6 points and 8 rebounds per game.  Senior G Robo Kreps – Would have received consideration for the all-conference third team (if one rightfully existed) averaging 16 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 2.9 assists per game.  Next year will be a fresh start for coach Howard Moore.  It’s time for Moore to put his stamp on this program.  Projected conference tournament finish: Lose in the first round; no postseason

Up Next: Tuesday at Cleveland State (22-7)

9. Youngstown State (7-20, 2-16, 291)

Recent Results: Lost to Green Bay 71-60, Lost to Milwaukee 94-87 (OT)

The Penguins came within inches of ruining Milwaukee’s season, but like so many games before, they came up just short.  Youngstown State finished with just one player receiving any conference accolades.  Sophomore F Damian Eargle – Averaging 11 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 3 blocks per game, Eargle had the best season of any Penguin and finished as a member of the all-newcomer team.  Eargle could have also made a strong case for the All-Defensive team.  Projected Finish: Lose in the first round; no postseason

Up Next: Tuesday at Valparaiso (19-10)

8. Loyola (16-14, 7-11, 195)

Recent Results: Beat Valparaiso 68-48, Lost to Butler 63-56

The Ramblers were able to squeak out one more conference win in a dismal conference season.   The Ramblers finished with one player in the conversation for any conference accolades.  Senior G Geoff McCammon – On his way to earning the Horizon League’s Sixth Man of the Year award, McCammon averaged 14.5 PPG and 3 RPG while averaging 43.2% from beyond the arc (and ironically leading the team with 30.9 minutes per game).   One could make the case that sophomore F Ben Averkamp was a third team performer.    Projected Finish: Lose in the first round; no postseason

Up Next: Tuesday at Detroit (15-15)

7. Green Bay (13-17, 8-10, 164)

Recent Results: Beat Youngstown State 71-60, Lost to Cleveland State 64-57

A big round of applause is deserved for senior G Rahmon Fletcher who ends his career as one of the greatest Phoenix of all time.  The diminutive point guard finished the year as a member of the all-conference second team averaging 16 PPG and 3 APG.  Fletcher should have a nice long career overseas.  Also finishing with postseason accolades is freshman C Alec Brown.  Named to the all-newcomer team, Brown finished the season with 10 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 2.1 BPG.  Projected Finish: Lose in the first round; no postseason

Up Next: Tuesday at Wright State (16-13)

6. Detroit (15-15, 10-8, 146)

Recent Results: Beat Wright State 77-67

A nice win to end an unsuccessful regular season for the Titans, but they’ll have a lot of work to do if they wish to reach the NCAA tournament.  Still, in all of their mediocrity, they pulled in a bunch of postseason awards.  Freshman G Ray McCallum Jr. was named the Newcomer of the Year in the Horizon League as well as to the all-newcomer team and all-conference second team.  It’s a pretty impressive haul, but it left some people wondering if it was well deserved, or if it was just a product of being a McDonald’s All-American.  Junior F/C Eli Holman also pulled in honors as a member of the all-conference second team and the all-defensive team.  Again, some question whether Holman was truly worthy of the second team.    Projected Finish: Lose in the second round; no postseason

Up Next: Tuesday vs. Loyola (16-14)

5. Wright State (16-13, 10-8, 128)

Recent Results: Lost to Cleveland State 74-72, Beat Hofstra 82-56

The Raiders slipped in their last game of the year and will now take on the Green Bay Phoenix in the first round.  One man that should will them to victory is first team all-conference senior G Vaughn Duggins.  Duggins truly had an outstanding season averaging 18 PPG and 3.8 RPG.  His backcourt mate N’Gai Evans earned second team all-conference with 14.2 PPG, 4 RPG, and 3.3 APG.    Projected Finish: Lose in the second round; no postseason

Up Next: Friday vs. Detroit (14-15)

4. Valparaiso (19-10, 12-6, 71)

Recent Results: Lost to Loyola 68-48, Beat UIC 79-65

Valpo faltered down the stretch, losing 3 of their last 4 and squandering an opportunity for a first round bye.  Still, the Crusaders had a successful season with Junior G Brandon Wood leading the way as a first-team all-conference player.   A case could have been made for Ryan Broekhoff to be included on the second-team, but he’d have to settle for consideration for the third-team.  The Crusaders would have had a much better season had Cory Johnson not regressed so much in his senior year.  Projected Finish: Lose in the Semifinals; CBI/CIT

Up Next: Tuesday vs. Youngstown State (7-20)

3. Cleveland State (22-7, 13-5, 37)

Recent Results: Lost to Milwaukee 87-83, Beat Green Bay 64-57

The Vikings blew a huge opportunity that now puts them behind the eight ball.  Losing to Milwaukee at home dropped them to third in the pecking order, and quite possibly ruined what was a fantastic season.  Senior G Norris Cole, who is a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award for the nation’s best point guard, is 2011’s Horizon League Player of the Year.  He also placed on the all-defensive team as the Defensive Player of the Year.  Clearly, Cole is a special player that should find a place on an NBA bench.  Also receiving postseason honors is junior G Trevon Harmon who is a member of the all-defensive team.  Projected Finish: Lose in the Semifinals; NIT

Up Next: Tuesday vs. UIC (6-23)

Matt Howard gave his blood, sweat, and tears to the Butler program. Bulldog fans should be proud.

2. Butler (20-9, 13-5, 45)

Recent Results: Beat Loyola 63-56

The Bulldogs didn’t quite finish where they hoped, but they still have a chance at accomplishing their goal of making it back to the NCAA tournament.  Outgoing senior F Matt Howard has had an outstanding career and caps it off as a member of the all-conference first team as well as the all-defensive team.  Congratulations to him on an outstanding career.  Also, Junior G Shelvin Mack finished on the second-team and Ronald Nored finished on the all-defensive team.  Projected Finish: Win the Horizon League Tournament; NCAA Tournament Auto Bid

Up Next: Saturday vs. UIC/Cleveland State/Green Bay/Wright State (at Milwaukee)

Ryan Allen has been a tremendous spark of the bench for Horizon League COY Rob Jeter.

1. Milwaukee (18-12, 13-5, 98)

Recent Results: Beat Cleveland State 87-83, Beat Youngstown State 94-87 (OT)

What an incredible story these Panthers have to tell.  Finding themselves sitting at seventh place in conference play at a 4-5 record, and just coming off a 60-43 thrashing at the hands of Valpo, the Panthers knew something had to change.  They held a team meeting where everything was laid out on the table.  Nothing was held back.   And the rest?  Well, that’s what we like to call history folks.  Senior F Anthony Hill went on to average 20 PPG, 6.5 RPG and shoot 76.6% at the stripe over this 9-game stretch and earned first team all-conference along the way.  Junior PG Kaylon Williams would go on to average 7.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG (!) and 7.8 APG (!) while earning a spot on the all-newcomer team (and certainly made a case for the second-team).   Junior G/F Ryan Allen was asked to defend the opponent’s best guard in crunch time, and while he didn’t play the minutes necessary to earn a spot on the all-defensive team, he was as important to his team as any other player.  Finally, head coach Rob Jeter improved as a coach so much that he earned the Horizon League Coach of the Year award; a well deserved honor for a guy who put all his faith in his vocal point guard, and had a lot of help from his qualified assistants.  Projected Finish: Lose in the Championship Game; NIT

Up Next: Saturday vs. Youngstown State/Valparaiso/Loyola/Detroit

Advertisements

Horizon League Rankings (February 8-14)

The Horizon League grabs position in the conference RPI ranks inching ahead of the Missouri Valley Conference for 11th this week.

Which Horizon League team will be the Cinderella in this year's NCAA Tournament?

In descending order…

10. UIC (Overall Record: 6-20, Conference Record: 2-13, RPI: 277)

Recent Results: Beat Green Bay 63-61 (OT), Lost to Milwaukee 70-59

The Flames have a tough stretch to end the season, but coach Howard Moore has his team playing tough to the end.  UIC pulled out a gritty overtime win over Green Bay earlier this week before losing to Milwaukee.  Can they play spoiler late in the season with games against Butler and Valpo?  Projected Conference Finish: 2-16 (10th); no postseason tournament beyond Horizon League

Up Next: Wednesday vs. Loyola (14-12)

9. Youngstown State (6-17, 2-13, 266)

Recent Results: Lost to Cleveland State 86-76

The ‘Guins played Cleveland State tough in Cleveland and will be a tough team to play at the end of the season.  They have a very real chance at upsetting Green Bay and/or Milwaukee on their home court.  Projected Finish: 3-15 (9th); no postseason

Up Next: Saturday at Cleveland State (19-4)

8. Loyola (14-12, 5-10, 214)

Recent Results: Lost to Milwaukee 66-57, Beat Green Bay 79-62

The Ramblers were spanked by Milwaukee in a revenge game earlier this week.  They truly lack a dependable point guard at this point as Geoff McCammon, Andy Polka, and Ben Averkamp really aren’t the problem.  Projected Finish: 6-12 (8th); no postseason

Up Next: Wednesday at UIC (6-20)

7. Green Bay (11-14, 6-8, 164)

Recent Results: Lost to UIC 63-61 (OT), Lost to Loyola 79-62

Green Bay has the toughest schedule of anyone down the stretch.  To get to 7 wins will be an accomplishment as they have Butler, Valpo, Youngstown State, and Cleveland State left on the schedule.  Projected Finish: 6-12 (7th); no postseason

Up Next: Tuesday vs. Butler (17-9)

6. Detroit (13-14, 8-8, 151)

Recent Results: Lost to Valparaiso 82-74, Lost to Butler 66-51

Detroit has, undoubtedly, one of the most talented starting lineups in the Horizon League.  They might have THE most talented.  So, what’s keeping them at 8-8 in conference?  The problem is, things don’t seem to be getting any better for the Titans.  Projected Finish: 9-9 (6th); no postseason

Up Next: Wednesday vs. Youngstown State (6-17)

5. Wright State (15-11, 10-6, 106)

Recent Results: Lost to Butler 71-63, Lost to Valparaiso 58-56

Originally I projected a four game losing streak to end the conference season for the Raiders, but I think they’ll take care of business against Detroit to end the season right.  Vaughn Duggins has had a 1st team All-Conference type of season for coach Billy Donlon.  Projected Finish: 11-7 (5th); no postseason

Up Next: Wednesday vs. Cleveland State (20-5)

4. Butler (17-9, 10-5, 45)

Recent Results: Beat Wright State 71-63, Beat Detroit 66-51

The Bulldogs have won four in a row now and play three of the four worst teams in the league in the next two weeks.  Look for Butler to finish strong and take a seven game winning streak into the conference tournament.  Projected Finish: 13-5 (3rd); NCAA Tournament Auto Bid

Up Next: Tuesday at Green Bay (11-14)

3. Milwaukee (15-11, 10-5, 109)

Recent Results: Beat Loyola 66-57, Beat UIC 70-59

Butler’s hot streak is eclipsed only by Milwaukee six (!) game winning streak.  The Panthers are hot, and look capable of beating any team in the league at this point.  They have a shot at a first-round bye in the league tournament, but the road won’t be easy.  They finish the season on a two game Ohio road trip.   Projected Finish: 12-6 (4th); CIT

Up Next: Wednesday vs. Valparaiso (17-7)

2. Cleveland State (20-5, 11-4, 37)

Recent Results: Beat Youngstown State 86-76

The Vikings probably need to finish alone in first place to take the Horizon League title as their tie breaker with Valpo doesn’t fall in their favor as of right now.  A lot can happen between now and then, but they’ll need help.  Their schedule is manageable but will provide some tests.  Projected Finish: 14-4 (2nd); NIT

Up Next: Wednesday at Wright State (15-11)

Can the Crusaders handle the bright lights of crunch time?

1. Valparaiso (17-7, 11-3, 49)

Recent Results: Beat Detroit 82-74, Beat Wright State 58-56

The Crusaders have an easy finish to end the season with the Milwaukee Panthers the only road block on the way to a Horizon League crown.  Can Homer Drew’s team handle the pressure and finish strong?  Projected Finish: 14-4 (1st); NIT

Up Next: Wednesday at Milwaukee (15-11)

Horizon League Power Rankings (January 18-24)

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

In descending order…

10. UIC (Overall Record: 4-15, Conference Record: 0-8, RPI: 266)

Recent Results: Lost to Loyola 68-59

Another dismal season for the Flames.  A bummer of a way to go out for seniors Paul Carter and Robo Kreps.  UIC will be hard-pressed to reach 5 wins this season.  Crazy that one of them came against Illinois.  Bizarre…

Up Next: Thursday vs. Cleveland State (16-3)

9. Youngstown State (5-12, 1-8, 260)

Recent Results: Lost to Wright State 66-62, Lost to Detroit 73-69

The Penguins actually put together a rather competitive week.  They only lost to Detroit and Wright State by a combined 8 points.  Senior Vytas Sulskis just keeps chugging along, and deserves some consideration for an all-conference team.

Up Next: Thursday at Loyola (12-8)

8. Loyola (12-8, 3-6, 194)

Recent Results: Beat UIC 68-59

Loyola gets their second win in a row this week, albeit against the worst team in the conference.  Senior Andy Polka has played quite well the last couple games, and if Loyola is going to make a run in this league, this is the stretch that they’ll need to do it.

Up Next: Thursday vs. Youngstown State (5-12)

7. Milwaukee (10-11, 5-5, 130)

Tony Meier (21) and Anthony Hill (23) look to lead Milwaukee to a first round home game in the Horizon League tourney.

Recent Results: Lost to Valparaiso 60-43, Beat Butler 86-80

I’m just not sure what to say about this team.  I don’t know what motivates them to beat teams like Butler, and just get completely blown out in other games.  It seems to be a lack of mental toughness, but how does that explain their wins over the Bulldogs?  If anyone can logically explain how the Panthers have gotten to this point, please let me know.  Either way, they’re in the thick of a tight conference race for a first-round bye in the conference tournament

Up Next: Friday vs. Detroit (10-10)

6. Detroit (10-10, 5-4, 167)

Recent Results: Lost to Cleveland State 81-69, Beat Youngstown State 73-69

A .500 record is too low for the talent this team boasts.  That has to fall squarely at the feet of Coach Ray McCallum Sr.  However, if they can come out of Wisconsin with a sweep this weekend, it will go a long way towards their standing in the Horizon League with UIC and Loyola to follow Milwaukee and Green Bay.

Up Next: Friday at Milwaukee (10-11)

5. Green Bay (10-10, 5-4, 131)

Recent Results: Lost to Butler 81-75, Beat Valparaiso 63-61

Brian Wardle has done a great job with his squad this year.  He was left with two great senior guards, and absolutely nothing else.  He’s gotten good production from his young players, and it’s obvious that they continue to improve as the season goes on.  However, I don’t expect Green Bay to end up in the top half of the league come late February.

Up Next: Friday vs. Wright State (11-8)

4. Wright State (11-8, 6-3, 100)

Recent Results: Beat Youngstown State 66-62, Lost to Cleveland State 65-46

Getting blown out at Cleveland State was not what new coach Billy Donlon was hoping for.  They’ll have the chance to bounce back in what is shaping up to be a very important week in Wisconsin.  Vaughn Duggins is the heart and soul of this team and will likely find himself on one of the two All-Conference teams at the end of the year.

Up Next: Friday at Green Bay (10-10)

3. Butler (13-7, 6-3, 41)

Recent Results: Beat Green Bay 81-75, Lost to Milwaukee 86-80

Getting swept by Milwaukee is the reason Butler has no chance at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.  Fortunately, they still can earn their way in the Horizon League tournament, but it’ll be an uphill climb.  Cleveland State, Valparaiso, and apparently Milwaukee will have a lot to say about Butler making it back to the “big dance.”

Up Next: Saturday at Valparaiso (13-6)

2. Valparaiso (13-6, 7-2, 57)

Recent Results: Beat Milwaukee 60-43, Lost to Green Bay 63-61

The Crusaders drop a spot due to their home loss to the hands of the Green Bay Phoenix, but they’re still tied for first in the standings.  This week is perhaps the biggest week of the season so far for the Crusaders.  They’re 7-2 and will take on Butler AND Cleveland State in the next two games.

Up Next: Saturday vs. Butler (13-7)

Norris Cole is focused on getting the Vikings to the big dance.

1. Cleveland State (16-3, 7-2, 32)

Recent Results: Beat Detroit 81-69, Beat Wright State 65-46

Cleveland State probably doesn’t have the signature victory to earn an at-large bid at this point.  Hopefully, a victory over Butler, Valparaiso, and the BracketBuster can help them earn that respect.  The Vikings have won three in a row, and traveling to Chicago this week should improve that to five in a row.  Norris Cole has been the best guard in the league this year.

Up Next: Thursday at UIC (4-15)

Horizon League Power Rankings (December 28 – January 3)

The Horizon League drop to 10th in Conference RPI this week.

Yet another strange week in the Horizon League.  Who’s #1 this week???

In descending order…

10. Youngstown State (Overall Record: 5-7, Conference Record: 1-3, RPI: 245)

Recent Results: Beat UIC 71-69, Lost to Loyola 83-53

The Penguins squeaked one out against UIC at home, but were then crushed in the Beeghly Center by Loyola.  It’s really tough to forecast Youngstown’s next D-I win.  How many wins will they be able to pull out in the Horizon League?  Unfortunately, they don’t get to play UIC at home every week.

Up Next: Friday at Valparaiso (8-5)

9. UIC (4-10, 0-3, 217)

Recent Results: Lost to Youngstown State 71-69, Lost to Cleveland State 83-59

UIC is struggling right now.  They’ve lost 7 of their last 8, and if not for their upset over Illinois, they’d probably be sitting in last place in these power rankings.  Being within a possession of Youngstown State in Youngstown keeps them in 9th for now, but they’re definitely walking on thin ice.  Who knows when they’ll win their first Horizon League game…

Up Next: Thursday vs. Wright State (7-6)

Rahmon Fletcher is hoping to turn this season around for the young Phoenix

8. Green Bay (6-9, 1-3, 180)

Recent Results: Lost to Detroit 79-56, Lost to Wright State 67-64, Beat Houston Baptist 77-61

The Phoenix have beaten three sub-320 RPI teams so far this year, and haven’t looked particularly good in any of them.  Their best win of the year (arguably of course) was over 4-9 Miami (OH).  Single digit wins this season isn’t out of the question, but I have faith they’ll get 10.  This can’t be how Rahmon Fletcher or Bryquis Perine were hoping to end their college careers.

Up Next: Saturday vs. Milwaukee (8-8)

7. Detroit (7-7, 2-1, 206)

Recent Results: Beat Green Bay 79-56, Lost to Milwaukee 84-81

Apparently the Titans are going to try to win most games without the three-ball.  Detroit only gets 19.4% of their points from three point shots.  That’s tough in the Horizon League where you have a number of teams who are trying to bury you with the three ball.  On top of their lack of perimeter shooting, they’re a poor defensive team.  Ken Pomeroy is even a little confused as he labels their defense scheme as inconclusive.

Up Next: Thursday at Loyola (10-5)

Kaylon Williams is hoping that his buzzer beating shot in Detroit was the turning point for Milwaukee's season.

6. Milwaukee (8-8, 3-2, 135)

Recent Results: Lost to Wright State 68-44, Beat Detroit 84-81, Beat Butler 76-52

What a week for the Panthers!  They travel to Dayton to take on Wright State, only to be blown out by Vaughn Duggins and company.  Then they head north and knock off Detroit in overtime.  Finally, they head back home and absolutely demoralize Butler to end their 22 conference game win streak.  What the hell happened in between Wright State and Detroit!?  Kaylon Williams happened…  17 point against Detroit including the game-tying three pointer to send it to overtime, and a triple-double against Butler (10 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 1 turnover!) shows that Kaylon is the difference maker on this team and it’s him, not Anthony Hill, that makes the Milwaukee offense go.

Up Next: Saturday at Green Bay (6-9)

5. Wright State (7-6, 2-1, 145)

Recent Results: Beat Milwaukee 68-44, Beat Green Bay 67-64

Thoroughly dismantling Milwaukee was the highlight to a great week for the Raiders.  Vaughn Duggins has been outstanding and the post play for Wright State has been up to the task so far.  It seems I may have underestimated their ability to defend a bit there… Oops!  The Raiders travel to Chicago for a couple of tough games this week.  We’ll see what they’re made of soon enough.

Up Next: Thursday at UIC (4-10)

4. Loyola (10-5, 1-3, 164)

Recent Results: Lost to Cleveland State 73-55, Beat Youngstown State 83-53

Another team with a turbulent week as Loyola has yet to prove they are among the upper echelon of teams in the Horizon League.  I’d be shocked to see them get to 20 wins this year, but they have a good shot at 18.  They’ll really need to prove that they’re capable of beating solid teams.  Six of their wins this year have come against teams with a sub-280 RPI, and their best win came against 6-6 Western Michigan.

Up Next: Thursday vs. Detroit (7-7)

3. Valparaiso (8-5, 2-1, 70)

Recent Results: Beat Ball State 69-52, Lost to Butler 76-59

Valpo had two really nice wins in a row over Oakland and then Ball State.  Then they followed it up with a dud against Butler.  I still like the Crusaders for third in the conference though.  Unfortunately, for them, I don’t see it getting any better than that.

Up Next: Friday vs. Youngstown State (5-7)

2. Butler (9-5, 2-1, 18)

Recent Results: Beat Valpo 76-59, Lost to Milwaukee 76-52

What a shame the let down in Milwaukee was for the Bulldogs.  It really hurts their chances at an at-large bid and puts serious doubt into their minds for Friday’s huge matchup against Cleveland State.  Milwaukee really played a nearly flawless game, but Butler really didn’t show up to play.  I’d be shocked if we didn’t see Butler looking to avenge their loss on Monday with a home court win over the Vikings.

Up Next: Friday vs. Cleveland State (13-1)

1. Cleveland State (13-1, 4-0, 27)

Recent Results: Beat Loyola 73-55, Beat UIC 83-59

And earn their keep they have.  The Vikings had no problem dispatching of their Chicago based foes this week and it all sets up for a huge matchup at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Friday.  Coach Gary Waters has his guys playing extremely efficient basketball.  We’ll see who the king of the conference is come Friday…

Up Next: Friday at Butler (9-5)

Horizon League Power Rankings (Week 1)

Following the first full week of college basketball action, it seems like a good time to begin the weekly Horizon League Power Rankings.  After about a week and a half of play, the Horizon League comes in at 19-12, which doesn’t include the Non-Division I opponents because, well, those wins just don’t tell us a whole lot.

You’ll find that after the first week and a half some surprise teams occupy spots near the top and bottom of the league.

In descending order…

10. Valparaiso (2-1)

Recent Results: Beat Indiana-Northwest 111-64, Lost to Kansas 79-44, Beat Purdue-North Central 98-44

One of two teams in the league without a Division I win, the Crusaders have shown that they have an explosive offense.  Holding Kansas under 80 is, at worst, a moral victory.  The question is: do the Crusaders have the capable bigs to keep up with the Eli Holmans of the Horizon League?  Giving up 34 points to Kansas’ Morris twins isn’t a good sign.  Coach Homer Drew is hoping that F Cory Johnson can come back quickly from plantar fasciitis in his foot and be a factor on the offensive AND defensive end come conference play.  Don’t expect to see Valpo in this spot as early as next week.

Up Next: Tuesday at Ohio

9. Detroit (1-2)

Recent Results: Lost to New Mexico 63-54, Lost to Syracuse 66-55, Beat Indiana Tech 93-62

Don't expect to see this talented trio so low in the power rankings again...

The Titans are the other team without a Division I victory.  Though they lost their first two games of the season, they showed signs of being a very good defensive team.  Eli Holman has been an absolute beast early on with averages of 17.7 PPG, 10 RPG and shooting 59% from the field.  I don’t expect Detroit to toil in the bottom half of the league for long as their schedule becomes far less difficult following their game in Starksville tonight.

Up Next: Monday at Mississippi State

8. Wright State (Record: 2-1)

Recent Results: Lost 67-44 to Indiana, Beat Northwood 75-55, Beat Southern 66-43

The Raiders have experience at the guard position, which is the main reason it would be no surprise to see them finish in the top 6 of the league.  However, since they’ve only played three games, they only have one win against a Division I opponent, and were destroyed on the boards by Indiana.  Their achilles all season will be their lack of depth and size up front, but as long as Vaughn Duggins is in the game, the Raiders have a chance.

Up Next: Tuesday vs. Oakland

7. Green Bay (2-2)

Recent Results: Beat Minnesota-Duluth 75-36, Lost to Marquette 89-69, Lost to San Diego State 79-70, Beat Miami (OH)

The Phoenix showed their potential in the first 10 minutes against San Diego State, but completely imploded in the final 30.  A lack of depth on the roster could come to haunt them as it did in a grueling battle against the Aztecs, but the talent is there.  Troy Snyder has been a pleasant surprise, and senior guards Bryquis Perine and Rahmon Fletcher will give the Phoenix an chance in every game, evidenced by their victory over the Redhawks of Miami.

Up Next: Monday vs. IUPUI

6. Youngstown State (2-1)

Recent Results: Beat Samford 64-61, Beat Buffalo 64-53, Lost to Akron 91-84

The Penguins have probably peaked in our power rankings, but their victories over Samford and Buffalo are solid wins.  There are so many unknowns with the Penguins, but one thing is for sure, the new group of guys are not quitters.  Devonte Maymon has been a pleasant surprise so far, and Vytas Sulskis has been the veteran presence they need.  The news isn’t all good.  The Penguins are not well suited to sustain the success over a grueling conference schedule.

Up Next: Wednesday vs. Toledo

5. UIC (3-2)

Recent Results: Lost to Pitt 97-54, Beat Roosevelt 94-54, Beat Toledo 57-51, Lost to Charleston 78-66, Beat Rhode Island 74-68

After an uninspiring first four games of the year, the Flames posted a very impressive victory over the Rams of Rhode Island.  Expect an up and down first season for Coach Howard Moore as he tries to figure out who will stick around next year.  Forming rotations with a bunch of guys who you’ve only known for a couple months has to be incredibly difficult, but fortunately for Coach Moore, he has veterans Robo Kreps, Zavion Neely, and Paul Carter at his disposal.  The Flames will be a tough opponent for any Horizon League team.

Up Next: Wednesday vs. Central Michigan

4. Milwaukee (3-2)

Recent Results: Lost to Portland 80-60, Lost to Florida Atlantic 85-76, Beat UC-Davis 73-62, Beat Niagara 90-73, Beat Northern Iowa 65-63

A lackluster start to the year could have put the Panthers at or near the bottom of these power rankings.  But after a couple of really solid wins, things are looking up in Milwaukee.  Tone Boyle has found his stroke, and the Panthers have gotten a ton of energy from sophomore G Lonnie Boga and newcomer Ryan Allen.  Milwaukee has a tough week ahead, but against an extremely athletic Marquette team, their depth COULD be the key to a monumental upset.

Up Next: Tuesday vs. Western Michigan

3. Butler (2-1)

Recent Results: Beat Marian (Ind.) 83-54, Lost to Louisville 88-73, Beat Ball State 88-55

Bulldog fans are hoping Shelvin Mack doesn't have to shoulder all the burden in their march towards madness.

This might be the lowest you’ll see Butler all year, but there are some legitimate concerns with this team.  Their loss at Louisville should absolutely not be considered a bad loss, but it revealed that this team might struggle to find scoring at times.  If Matt Howard can’t stay out of trouble, Butler is essentially putting all their hopes on Shelvin Mack to score.  My bet is that someone (Shawn Vanzant?) will emerge to be a consistent threat on the wing opposite Mack, so no need to panic…yet.

Up Next: Tuesday at Siena

2. Cleveland State (5-0)

Recent Results: Beat Bryant 71-57, Beat Iona 78-68, Beat Kent State 69-66, Beat Urbana 83-49, Beat Louisiana-Lafayette 60-55

The first of two undefeated teams in the Horizon League, the Vikings are fully capable of continuing that trend through the first 12 games of their season.  Behind spectacular point guard play from senior Norris Cole, Cleveland State hopes to pile up non-conference wins in a fairly weak non-conference schedule.  The Vikings have gotten quality minutes from junior F Aaron Pogue and have all the potential to be the last time standing come conference tournament time.

Up Next: Tuesday at Akron

1. Loyola (5-0)

Recent Results: Beat Eastern Kentucky 73-57, Beat Indiana State 86-74, Beat UT-Pan Am 79-57, Beat Eastern Illinois 73-62, Beat Western Michigan 82-64

The Ramblers’ schedule is littered with weaker non-conference opponents, but you simply cannot dismiss Loyola’s average margin of victory so far.   On average, the Ramblers have beaten their opponent by 15.8 points per game.  That is remarkable against any 5 opponents, and when looking further into what’s behind their success…why is everyone so surprised?  Returning their entire starting lineup from a year ago has been key to their success early as Jordan Hicks has been a man among boys with a true shooting percentage of 71.5%.

Up Next: Monday vs. Alcorn State