The race for second place likely narrows down to two teams. These will be the final rankings until the end of the regular season. Who’s got the Upper Hand?
- Valparaiso (20-4, 10-1). It was just proven in the Super Bowl that defense wins championships. The Crusaders are looking to second that motion. They have the nation’s third best scoring defense allowing just under 60 points per game. This is the kind of deep and experienced team that is poised to peak in March. Alec Peters is a nightmare for any team to try to guard.
- Oakland (17-8, 9-3). The Golden Grizzlies are playing better because Kay Felder has the pressure off of him to score all of the points. The more his teammates get involved in the offense, the better the team plays on both ends. Plus, Oakland is playing with confidence again and they believe they can win the conference tourney in March.
- Wright State (15-10, 9-3). The Raiders remain the H-League’s most surprising team. They don’t rebound well and can be hot and cold offensively. But their defense keeps them in a lot of games. They can also spread their scoring out, making them difficult to prepare for.
- Northern Kentucky (9-14, 5-7). The Norse are fitting in very well in the Horizon League. They had surprising wins at both Michigan schools, and got a big win over Milwaukee in their last game. The Norse are not eligible for postseason play due to their transitioning to Division 1, which gives them all the more reason to leave it all on the floor at the H-League Tourney in March. Good luck containing seniors Tyler White and Jalen Billups down the stretch.
- Detroit Mercy (12-11, 6-6). The Titans have six games left, and lost the first matchup with five of those final opponents. But don’t expect the Titans to finish 1-5 in the homestretch. They lost too many nail-biters and have learned how to give themselves a better chance to win close games.
6 (Tie). Wisconsin-Green Bay (14-10, 6-5) and Wisconsin-Milwaukee (15-9, 6-5). Both of the Badger State teams have underachieved a bit so far. Green Bay is third in the nation in scoring, but is near the very bottom in points allowed. If they could just find a little defense, their chances to win would be so much better. Seven of Milwaukee’s nine total losses this season have been by four points or less, meaning they have a chance to win nearly every game in crunch time. That is an amazing stat!
- Youngstown State. The Penguins have lost three in a row and six of eight. Their next two games are against the two teams they beat in that span (who happen to be at the bottom of this list). Cameron Morse continues to impress, as he has scored at least 22 points in the last four games. And what is just as impressive is his 48% field goal percentage.
- Illinois-Chicago (3-19, 1-10). The Flames finally got their first win against a Division 1 opponent this season. The way this team is improving, don’t expect it to be their last. They just need to focus on getting better each game as they look forward to a much brighter 2016-17 season.
- Cleveland State (7-18, 2-10). With the offensive explosion in the H-League this season, the Vikings must feel left out as they are averaging a meager 62.3 points per game. They have lost five in a row, and it will not get any easier down the stretch. Every program has up and down seasons. But this one is much further down than what Vikings fans are used to.