College basketball kicked off on Tuesday, so it is time to start the rankings that use actual game play. The conference as a whole showed some serious potential. The only team to play a top 25 team, Bowling Green, lost, but looked really impressive at times in Baton Rouge. Now, for our after a game or two rankings, which will be totally relevant come the start of conference play.
The Huskies lost to football power Northern Iowa as their only contest on the season. Northern Illinois did not get much scoring from the bench or the starters not named Eugene German. As for the exceptionally explosive German, he did not have his best outing. How he plays is going to go a long way in determining the outcome of the Huskies season. While I don’t think all is doom and gloom in DeKalb, I do have them at 12.
#11 Miami RedHawks
Nike Sibande is a great player. If several other players on this team live up to their potential, this could be a great team. Jack Owens’ RedHawks have been hovering around .500 the last few seasons, showing lots of potential. If they start hitting that potential, especially with a player of Sibande’s talent, look out.
If you are an Eastern fan, do not pay much attention to the number 10. In reality, I could have pulled the next 6 or 7 teams out of a hat. I chose the Eagles first(last) because of my hatred for the 2-3. While they did look impressive in the win against Sienna Heights, I don’t know how that translates to facing tougher competition. I do believe I live in a world where Boubacar Toure can make a difference on both ends of the court and Ty Groce looks like he is ready to have a breakout season. This team has a new look, and that new look might be great. Time will tell.
The Cardinals are going to be a tough team to gauge early. Tahjai Teague is back and scored 20 points and grabbed 8 boards in the close loss to Evansville, while Kyle Mallers has been fairly steady. I do believe a leader will need to emerge for this team to really make a difference. Teague could be the guy, or Ishmael El-Amin. Even K.J. Walton has shown some flashes.
I might still have PTSD from the devastation that the Bulls wreaked on the conference the last few years and that could explain having a team yet to win and one that lost the likes of Perkins and Massinburg at 8. They still have Davonta Jordan and Jayvon Graves, and this team looks eerily similar to the Buffalo team a few years back, right before they started the reign of destruction. They like to chuck up lazy shots and play great defense most of the time. If they put it together like a few years ago, this team also has loads of potential.
#7 Akron Zips
I am probably paying too much attention to the win loss column this early in the season by putting the Zips at 7. By the end of the season, this team very well could be contending for a title with their length. However, I think this ranking is also a reflection of my hatred for the high screen chuck and duck offense. Of all the shots in the dark I have taken with this list, this one might be the one that really comes back to bite me in the behind.
Obviously any loss early in the season is not worth getting riled up about. I really probably should not have Toledo this low, but they did lose some talent from a year ago. They also returned and looked like a MAC title contender in their win against Marshall. All 5 starters scored in double figures, with Spencer Littleson pouring in 27. If he can start scoring like that, with Jackson and Jackson doing what they do, and Knapke providing an inside presence, we will all laugh at this low ranking by season’s end.
#5 Ohio Bobcats
Is it me or has Jordan Dartis been in Athens for a decade? This team has started off on the right foot with 2 wins. This team has a good balance of scoring and rebounding, and could be a force this season.
The Broncos win in triple overtime against Milwaukee showed me a few things. This is going to be a bumpy road for Western Michigan at times, but Michael Flowers and Brandon Johnson are really good. As other Broncos find their niche’ and step up, this team will be really good.
Under normal circumstances, a couple of blowout wins would not cause me to rank the Chippewas this high, especially with the way Toledo looked against Marshall and WMU in their triple overtime win. However, 236 points combined in 2 games is a hard stat to overlook.
I fully expect the Golden Flashes to knock off Ohio State. There I said(wrote) it. This team is balanced and plays well together. Yes it is still early and I may be way off base, but this reminds me of Kent teams in the past where they would sort of sneak up and win 20+ games and knock Akron out of the MAC tournament.
The Falcons have looked really good, even in the loss to LSU. They looked absolutely terrible for about 5 minutes, and suffered through a huge scoring run by the Tigers. IIRC it was 19-0. I was too traumatized to put it in my notes, because for most of the rest of the game, the Falcons looked like the better team. Justin Turner has to be the early favorite for MAC Player of the Year, while Tayler Mattos has been a rebounding machine.
For power rankings, I try to use the most recent games to determine which teams are playing the best basketball right now. With so few games, against wildly varying levels of competition, it is not easy, nor particularly accurate, but it sure is fun! Just like this season looks to be. I really could see any team playing well enough in the conference slate to get one of the byes in the conference tournament.