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Horizon League Power Rankings (January 25-31)

In descending order…

10. Youngstown State (5-14, 1-10, 293)

Recent Results: Lost to Loyola 84-71, Lost to UIC 83-61

Ouch.  Getting beat by Loyola in the Gentile Center is expected.  Getting blown out by UIC is inexcusable.  The Penguins flat out laid an egg, and it will be tough for them to recover in a very competitive Horizon League.  Projected Conference Finish: 1-17 (Tied for 9th)

Up Next: Thursday at Butler (13-8)

9. UIC (Overall Record: 5-16, Conference Record: 1-9, RPI: 270)

Recent Results: Lost to Cleveland State 63-49, Beat Youngstown State 83-61

The Flames are officially off the schneid.  I expected them to beat Loyola at home, but not by the margin they did.  The rest of their schedule is tough, but a four game home stretch in mid-February could be the difference between 9th and 10th.  Projected Finish: 1-17 (Tied for 9th)

Up Next: Thursday at Detroit (10-12)

8. Loyola (13-9, 4-7, 199)

Recent Results: Beat Youngstown State 84-71, Lost to Cleveland State 81-70

Well, here it is.  Now or never for the Ramblers.  These next five games are crucial for them to finish .500.  Realistically, they’ll need to win all five to do so.  I just don’t see that happening.  Projected Finish: 7-11 (8th)

Up Next: Thursday at Wright State (12-9)

Athletic dunks haven't translated to the win column for the Titans.

7. Detroit (10-12, 5-6, 184)

Recent Results: Lost to Milwaukee 72-67, Lost to Green Bay 85-74

33 turnovers in the last two games has Detroit reeling.  Detroit is the most athletic team in the Horizon League, but that hasn’t translated to the win-loss columns.  Fortunately there’s time to recover, but the schedule isn’t easy.  Projected Finish: 9-9 (Tied for 6th)

Up Next: Thursday vs. UIC (5-16)

6. Green Bay (11-11, 6-5, 142)

Recent Results: Lost to Wright State 63-61, Beat Detroit 85-74

Like Loyola, and every other middling team in the league, this is the stretch that will separate some teams.  They have a huge game at the U.S. Cellular Arena this week that will give them a leg up on Milwaukee, or cause them to fall behind a game and a half.  I expect what every rivalry game provides; a fight to the finish.  Projected Finish: 9-9 (Tied for 6th)

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

5. Milwaukee (12-11, 7-5, 117)

Recent Results: Beat Detroit 72-67, Beat Wright State 54-53

The Panthers are peaking, and they have a legitimate shot at the fourth best record in the Horizon League come season’s end.  They’ll have to do much of their damage away from home, however, as 4 of their last 6 games are in enemy territory.  They’ll need more of the same from seniors Anthony Hill and Tone Boyle.  Projected Finish: 11-7 (4th)

Up Next: Saturday vs. Green Bay (11-11)

4. Wright State (12-9, 7-4, 99)

Recent Results: Beat Green Bay 63-61, Lost to Milwaukee 54-53

Coming out of Wisconsin with a close win and a close loss should be a moral victory for the Raiders.  Playing without third leading scorer Troy Tabler and fourth leading scorer Cooper Land, their freshman got some welcome experience in conference play.  Projected Finish: 10-8 (5th)

Up Next: Thursday vs. Loyola (13-9)

3. Butler (13-8, 6-4, 43)

The Agro Crag? Wait, what?

Recent Results: Lost to Valparaiso 85-79 (OT)

When the Bulldogs escaped the Gentile Center in early December with a 63-61 victory over the Ramblers, they probably never imagined it would be the difference between a winning record and .500 right now.  Little did they know, it would be the first game in the Agro Crag that is the Horizon League schedule this year.  Clearly, they haven’t taken kindly to playing with a “target” on their back all season, and an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament looks like an afterthought at this point.  Projected Finish: 13-5 (3rd)

Up Next: Thursday at Youngstown State (5-14)

2. Valparaiso (14-6, 8-2, 55)

Recent Results: Beat Butler 85-79 (OT)

I can’t stress enough how important the win over Butler was.  It gives them a huge leg up on a first round bye in the Horizon League tournament.  Their next game against Cleveland State is almost as important as the Butler game.  Unfortunately for the Crusaders, they’ll have to do it on the road.  Projected Finish: 14-4 (2nd)

Up Next: Thursday at Cleveland State (18-3)

1. Cleveland State (18-3, 9-2, 30)

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

The league title comes down to Thursday’s tilt with the Crusaders of Valparaiso.  At 9-2, the Vikings have a leg up on the Crusaders and a favorable schedule to boot.  But you never know, and that’s why they play the games folks.  Projected Finish: 15-3 (1st)

Up Next: Thursday vs. Valparaiso (14-6)

 

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