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Horizon League: Weekly recap and power rankings

There has been a shift in the top tier of the conference

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Oakland Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The third week of league play in the Horizon did not disappoint — filled with competitive action, from the projected top of the standings to the bottom.

There’s a ton to unpack.

Headed into the matchups for last week, all eyes were on the big showdown between the Oakland Golden Grizzlies and the Valparaiso Crusaders. Leading for much of the night, Oakland coming out victorious on the road.

Oakland followed up its impressive win at Valparaiso by going on the road to Illinois-Chicago and edging out the Flames, 58-57. Despite only scoring one field goal in the last 4:32, the Golden Grizzlies improved to 4-0 in conference play.

Valparaiso bounced back with an 81-74 win over Detroit Mercy. The Titans gave the Crusaders all they could handle, trailing by only three with about a minute and a half remaining in regulation. Shane Hammink, who led all scorers with 23 points, drained a late triple to stop Detroit Mercy’s momentum, setting up the Crusaders to close out the game. Double-doubles from Alec Peters (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Tevonn Walker (21 points, 10 rebounds) rounded out Valparaiso’s other double-figure performers. Detroit Mercy was led by Chris Jenkins’ 18 points and 10 rebounds.

A Friendly Reminder

Green Bay served notice to the league that it is still the defending conference champion. The Phoenix stayed unbeaten in league play at 4-0 and are on a six-game winning streak. Green Bay beat Milwaukee 80-74 on the strength of four players in double figures. Kerem Kanter scored 15 points with 10 rebounds, Trevor Anderson had 12 points, Jamar Hurdle added 10 points, and Charles Cooper paced the Phoenix with 20 points.

Green Bay continued its hot play with a come-from-behind victory over the solid Northern Kentucky Norse. Trailing by as many as 15, Green Bay clawed its way back to an 80-71 victory. Once again, it was their balance offensively that provided the Phoenix the opportunity for success. Green Bay also scored 34 points off 19 Northern Kentucky turnovers, with 25 fast-break points.

Other League Action

Northern Kentucky downed Youngstown State, 83-70, and Cleveland State, 83-75, before falling to Green Bay. At 3-2 in conference play, the Norse are doing what they need to do: holding serve at home and stealing roads wins.

The Norse currently house the two Horizon league athletes of the week — Drew McDonald, coming off his Northern Kentucky Division I record 37-point performance, and freshmen guard Mason Faulkner, who averaged 20 points, four rebounds, and four assists in their two recent wins.

Wright State picked up its second conference win with a 55-51 home win over Cleveland State. The Raiders are consistent, but must value the ball more — they are averaging 16 turnovers per game in conference play.

Youngstown State knocked off Wright State, 80-75, improving to 2-2 in the Horizon, behind 16 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists from Cameron Morse. Francisco Santiago added 20 points.

In the game showcasing the two teams that have been competing in almost every league outing, Illinois-Chicago beat Detroit Mercy, 78-64.

Whats Next?

On Thursday, Green Bay will host Wright State in a critical battle, and Valparaiso will visit Youngstown State.

Assuming the Phoenix and Crusaders both win, it will set up a thrilling Monday-night showdown between the two next week.

Horizon League Power Rankings

Team Record Previous
Team Record Previous
1. Oakland 14-3, 4-0 2
2. Valparaiso 12-4, 2-1 1
3. Green Bay 10-6, 4-0 3
4. Northern Kentucky 12-6, 3-2 5
5. Youngstown State 8-9, 2-2 8
6. Wright State 11-6, 2-2 4
7. Illinois Chicago 8-8, 1-2 6
8. Cleveland State 5-11, 1-3 7
9. Milwaukee 4-12, 0-3 9
10. Detroit Mercy 2-14, 0-4 10