Horizon League Power Rankings, Dec. 12

Valparaiso’s at-large hopes are still alive after a win in the final seconds while Wright State and Mark Alstork have cooled down over the past few games.

That and more in this week’s Horizon League rankings.

1. Valparaiso

2016-2017 Record: 8-2

Previous Ranking: 1

Valparaiso maintains the No. 1 spot despite going 1-1 this past week, its loss coming at the hands of Kentucky at Rupp Arena. Alec Peters continues to play at an elite level. He’s currently third in the country in scoring at 25.3 points per game.

 

2. Oakland

2016-2017 Record: 9-1

Previous Ranking: 2

Early on Xavier Hill-Mais emerged as leading big man option for Oakland, but freshman Isaiah Brock has supplanted him recently. Brock has started the last six games for Oakland, and the early returns are solid: 7.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg and 1.0 spg in 23.3 mpg. Brock is shooting 75% from the field in that span.

 

3. Wright State

2016-2017 Record: 6-4

Previous Ranking: 3

Wright State lost their only game this past week, on the road against a good Loyola team. Opponents are clamping down on Mark Alstork, which has opened up opportunities for Grant Benzinger and Justin Mitchell on the perimeter. When Steven Davis clicks, so does Wright State.

 

4. Northern Kentucky

2016-2017 Record: 7-3

Previous Ranking: 5

Drew McDonald has been consistent, but Lavone Holland is trending upward in the past few contests. Holland is averaging 16.3 ppg, 3.8 apg while shooting 43% from beyond the arc for the year. Holland and McDonald are proving to be form a potent outside/inside duo for Northern Kentucky.

 

5. Green Bay

2016-2017 Record: 4-5

Previous Ranking: 4

Kerem Kanter scored 19 (!) straight points for Green Bay in their loss to Central Michigan this past week. He’s showing some scoring potential with his back to the basket. If Charles Cooper could focus on shots inside the arc and Khalil Small connect at a better rate from three, this team would be much better.

 

6. Youngstown State

2016-2017 Record: 5-6

Previous Ranking: 6

Cameron Morse is back in the lineup, Youngstown State has missed him dearly. In his void, Francisco Santiago contributed 53 points, 17 rebounds, 17 assists and five steals in three games. But Santiago only produced four points, five assists and two steals with Morse back. Youngstown State may need to incorporate Santiago more going forward, as teams hone in on Morse.

 

7. UIC

2016-2017 Record: 4-5

Previous Ranking: 7

The Flames are undoubtedly better than last season. They played Grand Canyon to the final minutes on the road in a close loss. That wouldn’t have been the case last season. But their youth showed in the final sequences — key turnovers cost them a shot at winning. Lots of young players are producing, but it may take some more time to finish games on the road. Keep an eye on their game against DePaul this week. This could be Steve McClain’s first true road win and instill much needed confidence heading into Horizon League play.

 

8. Milwaukee

2016-2017 Record: 4-6

Previous Ranking: 8

Milwaukee has been the most pleasant surprise in the Horizon League thus far. Brock Stull has really reaped the benefits of the attrition to the roster. Cody Wichmann, too. The development of Milwaukee’s guards will dictate how much more this team will keep surprising opponents. Bryce Nze will also need to cut down on his fouls — he’s undersized but productive.

 

9. Cleveland State

2016-2017 Record: 3-6

Previous Ranking: 9

The big three of Rob Edwards, Demonte Flannigan and Bobby Word produce 39.6 ppg. The key is being more efficient from the field, particularly from three. Cleveland State shoots 30% from beyond the arc as a team and takes 23.3 three’s per game. They’re settling for perimeter shots when they’re just not a great threat to make those shots.

 

10. Detroit

2016-2017 Record: 1-9

Previous Ranking: 10

Detroit has yet to defeat a Division I opponent. Opponents are shooting 59% inside the arc. That key figure sheds light on Detroit’s season so far. Chris Jenkins is shooting 20% from three after making 43% of his shots from deep last season. His play will go a long way in earning their first win against a Division I team.

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