Upper-Hand Rankings (1/17/16)

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.

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4 Responses to Upper-Hand Rankings (1/17/16)

  1. Chris Z says:

    TW – Limited viewing on the H-League this year although I did get to see OU vs MSU at the Palace. Felder reminds me of a young Damon Stoudamire. Assuming no implosion from Valpo down the stretch, are they an auto-bid team even if they get bounced in the HL Tournament at Joe Louis?

    Also curious about other non-Big 6 Conference squads. With SMU’s ban, who are some mid-major teams to look out for heading into March?

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    • Tim says:

      Hi Chris. Thanks for reading! I was at that game too. Great atmosphere. Yes, I think Valpo will get an at-large bid even if they lose in the tourney. Out of their 3 losses, only one could even be considered a bad loss (at Ball State). Losing at Oregon is fine, and they won one and lost one to Belmont, a team that is seemingly always in the dance in recent years. Other quality wins for Valpo were at Rhode Island and at Oregon State. As long as they finish at least 15-3 in the conference regular season, they should be fine, as the H-League is really getting more respect nationally as one of the better mid-majors.

      Great question. I like Stony Brook out of the America East. After a heartbreaking loss in the conference title game, their only goal is to get to the dance (plus they have a former Mr. Basketball from Michigan). Gotta love Texas Southern too. With Mike Davis having them play a brutal non-league schedule, they will dominate the SWAC. They have this player named Derrick Griffin who is a future NFL player, and a very good basketball player too. I also like UC Irvine, Mercer, and Stephen F. Austin.

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  2. Don Seeko says:

    My rankings as of today, January 19th are:
    Valpo
    Milwaukee
    Wright State
    Oakland
    Green Bay
    Detroit Mercy
    Northern Kentucky
    Cleveland State
    Youngstown State
    Illinois Chicago

    I think this weekend’s games as Milwaukee and Green Bay host Oakland and Detroit Mercy; and the Wright State being at home this weekend will be a telling sign for how the standing will shape up for the rest of the season.

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    • Tim says:

      Hi Don. I like your rankings. I think at this point, teams 2-6 on your list are almost interchangeable in any order. I definitely agree that this is a huge weekend and there will be a lot of movement in the standings, especially with UDM and Oakland not being good road teams. And how about the Norse shocking the Golden Grizzlies! What is going on with Oakland?

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