The race for second place intensifies. Who’s got the Upper-hand?
1. Valparaiso (15-3, 5-0). The Crusaders have won all five H-League games by double-digits. An undefeated 18-0 conference mark is still not probable, but definitely possible.
2. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (13-6, 4-2). Rob Jeter’s squad has been up and down in league play thus far. A big measuring stick for their team comes up this weekend when both Michigan teams come to town. The Panthers have had the same starting lineup for every game this season. They will need this experience and continuity down the stretch as they are hanging onto this #2 ranking by a thread.
3. Wisconsin-Green Bay (11-7, 4-2). When you have Jordan Fouse and Carrington Love leading the team, it is hard not to like Green Bay’s chances. But the Phoenix need to play better defensively if they want to remain in the upper-part of the standings.
4. Oakland (11-7, 3-2). There have been times this season that Oakland looks like a definite NCAA Tournament team, and other times they look out of sync. Kay Felder has been struggling with his shot the last few games, but that should not last long.
5. Detroit Mercy (9-7, 3-2). Don’t worry Titans fans, this team has a lot of upside and they seem to be improving as the season progresses. The Titan backcourt is an impressive constant that will provide much of the scoring. But the frontcourt, led by Jaleel Hogan, has been playing well and will be the X-factor down the stretch.
6 Wright State (10-8, 4-1). Yes, I realize the Raiders have the second-best conference record and are ranked this low. Keep in mind they have yet to play Valpo, Oakland, or Detroit Mercy. Wright State will have their chance to play these teams in the next couple weeks to move up the ladder.
7(tie). Northern Kentucky (5-11, 1-4). The Norse got the monkey off of their back by getting their first H-League win. This team will be tough to beat come H-League Tourney time. Jalen Billups is averaging a career-best 13 ppg, and keep in mind he only plays about 20 minutes per game. Did I mention he shoots better than 64% from the field? That is the definition of efficiency!
7(tie). Youngstown State (7-12, 2-4). What a polarizing team the Penguins have been. Winning at Oakland and beating Green Bay was nice. But then getting blown out by Northern Kentucky and Wright State. Despite the stellar play by budding superstar Cameron Morse, the Penguins need a healthy Bobby Hain for the homestretch run.
9. Cleveland State (6-13, 1-5). The Vikings don’t score much and they don’t rebound well. They are solid defensively, which keeps them in a lot of games. On the bright side, they are young and can only go up from here.
10. Illinois-Chicago (2-14, 0-5). The Flames could smell their first league victory of the season, but narrowly fell by two points to Green Bay on Saturday. Dikembe Dixson looks like a legitimate pro prospect a couple years down the road. He is only a true freshman, but this is his team.