Each team has played at least two games, so it's time to debut our 2013-2014 Mid-American Conference women's basketball power rankings.
The order reflects what each team has done so far, but at this juncture of the season, expectations for where each team will go from here are still given some weight.
With that in mind...
1. Central Michigan Chippewas (1-1)
Previous: at Massachusetts (W), at Kentucky (L)
This Week: at Marquette (11/21)
Central Michigan has one of the most ambitious and difficult non-conference schedules I have ever seen put together by a mid-major. This will lead to fewer wins than if they played a soft schedule, but I see that as not being sufficient reason to move them from the top. The Chippewas absolutely blasted UMass by 44 points, then lost to a top-ten team in Kentucky by 22. The Wildcats were picked to finish second in the SEC this year. I'd like to see closer games against top competition, but for now CMU remains at the top.
2. Bowling Green Falcons (4-0)
Previous: vs Michigan (W), at Iona (W), Niagara (W), at Butler (W)
This Week: vs Marist (11/22), vs Old Dominion (11/23), at Ohio State (11/24)
No team in the MAC has shown more in the first two weeks of the season than the Falcons. BGSU already has wins over schools from the Big Ten and Big East, as well as a road win against one of the best teams in the MAAC. They did not trail for a single second in their wins over Michigan or Niagara, and they made a very strong comeback last night at Butler. They'll be tested again this weekend at the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic against another Big Ten power, as well as two of the nation's best mid-major programs.
3. Eastern Michigan Eagles (3-0)
Previous: Madonna (W), Butler (W), at Cleveland State (W)
This Week: NO GAMES
The Eagles were picked to finish in the bottom half of the MAC's Western Division this year, but it may be time to rethink that. EMU already has a nifty win in overtime over a strong Butler team (the same one that took BGSU to the limit last night), and they also have an impressive double-digit road win at Cleveland State. The Eagles have four players who are averaging over 10 points per game right now, including freshmen Cha Sweeney and Janay Morton. They get a break until after Thanksgiving, then play four games in a stretch of 12 days after the holiday.
4. Akron Zips (2-2)
Previous: Florida Atlantic (W), Tennessee Tech (W), at Dayton (L), at Wright State (L)
This Week: at Canisius (11/22)
If nothing else, the Zips have been very, very fun to watch so far this season. They are averaging 94 points per game and haven't scored fewer than 80 yet. They put up 118 against Tennessee Tech and another 98 in a 29-point win over FAU. The Zips did lose their first two road games of the season, but Dayton is a top-25 team that was in the NCAA Tournament last year while Wright State appears to be much improved. And Akron actually led Dayton by four at halftime. With Rachel Tecca and Hanna Luburgh both averaging over 25 points per game, I don't think there ought to be any concern over the Zips right now.
5. Toledo Rockets (1-2)
Previous: Drexel (L), Mississippi Valley State (W), Purdue (L)
This Week: at Missouri-Kansas City (11/20)
The Rockets are battling some injury issues right now but are still competing hard. They did what they needed to do by dispatching an over-matched MVSU squad by 47 points and played #18 Purdue as tough as they possibly could before falling by just two points. The most disappointing result of the first three games was the loss at home to Drexel, the defending WNIT champions. A win in that game would have been a nice resume builder for Toledo. As it is, there's nothing to really be alarmed about here; once they get healthier, the Rockets will be a formidable force.
6. Ball State Cardinals (0-2)
Previous: at Purdue (L), Pittsburgh (L)
This Week: at Evansville (11/20), at Detroit (11/23)
Two losses by a combined 11 points to two power conference teams is nothing to be ashamed of. The Cardinals would be higher here if they had been able to steal one of those games, but just being able to hang with those teams in back-to-back games is encouraging. Ball State has two games they should win this week.
7. Ohio Bobcats (2-0)
Previous: Xavier (W), at Morehead State (W)
This Week: at Louisville (11/21), at Eastern Kentucky (11/23)
Don't worry, Bobcat fans -- your team isn't being punished per se in being ranked in the middle of the pack despite winning their first two games. If they keep winning, they'll move up, but at this juncture, I did not want to penalize early-season conference favorites for losses against tougher competition. Wins over Xavier and Morehead State (on the road) are nice, but Xavier is really down from where they were two or three years ago. And frankly, MAC teams should be beating Morehead State. Ohio needs to beat Eastern Kentucky on Saturday and show well against Louisville this week.
8. Buffalo Bulls (2-1)
Previous: at Binghamton (W), at Youngstown State (W), Cornell (L)
This Week: at Duquesne (11/20)
No matter the competition, it's easy to like two road wins at this point in the season, especially one by 18 points (65-47 over Binghamton). However, the loss at home to Cornell is disappointing. That was one of only four home games before conference play starts, and you simply have to win those. Now, they have to go back on the road against Duquesne before coming back to Buffalo for a game with Canisius on the day before Thanksgiving.
9. Western Michigan Broncos (2-2)
Previous: at Massachusetts (W), at Albany (L), Detroit (W), Michigan (L)
This Week: at Tulsa (11/22), at Arkansas (11/24)
Western Michigan has been up-and-down over the first two weeks, but if common opponents tell us anything, WMU is clearly a notch below teams higher on this list. WMU beat the same Massachusetts team that Central Michigan defeated and also did it on the road. However, the Broncos' win was by just eight points. Then, last night, they had an opportunity for a statement win at home against the same Michigan team that BGSU led wire-to-wire. WMU lost to the Wolverines by 28. Now, the Broncos have two very difficult road games against Tulsa and Arkansas.
10. Northern Illinois Huskies (1-2)
Previous: at Wisconsin-Green Bay (L), Mississippi Valley State (W), at Wisconsin (L)
This Week: Bradley (11/21)
It's hard to get a read on Northern Illinois because they've not yet faced equitable competition yet. They have expected losses against mid-major powerhouse Green Bay and at Wisconsin, as well as a relatively easy home win over MVSU. For this reason, their current ranking is more reflective of preseason expectation than anything else. Games over the next few weeks should give us a better idea about the Huskies. They host Bradley this week before playing games at New Mexico State and against Lamar after Thanksgiving.
11. Kent State Golden Flashes (1-2)
Previous: Eastern Kentucky (W), Duquesne (L), at Cincinnati (L)
This Week: at Arkansas State (11/22), at Belmont (11/24)
Their only win is a one-point overtime victory at home over EKU, and the Flashes lost by 31 at home to Duquesne. The loss at Cincinnati is certainly excusable, but that game against the Dukes does not look good. If Kent State wants to move up, good showings in their road games this week are critical.
12. Miami RedHawks (1-2)
Previous: Eastern Kentucky (L), at Wright State (L), Chicago State (W)
This Week: at Illinois-Chicago (11/23)
Why are the RedHawks below Kent State? Compare the two teams' results against Eastern Kentucky. Miami's only win thus far is against lowly Chicago State. While it's good that the RedHawks won a "should-win" game, they've been the must unimpressive team in the MAC to date, and that's disappointing, because Miami was expected to be (at a minimum) on the fringes of the Eastern Division title race.