We are starting to see what these teams are really made of here early in conference play. Some have lived up what we expected, others not so much. This has led to a pretty big change in the power rankings this week. I don’t believe it is totally time for some teams to panic, but a few should have their panic button on standby. With that being said, lets rank.
The Bruins once again made a statement this week, earning their first two wins in conference play on the road. They almost went buzzer to buzzer against a very good Gamecock team that took away the three ball that we assumed the Bruins lived on. They followed up their performance with a blowout win at struggling Tennessee Tech. Last week the Bruins saw the emergence of J.J. Mann who recorded back to back career highs in the 2-0 week. Another weapon to go along Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson is dangerous. Belmont returns home to face SEMO and UT Martin.
Once again it was the Racers coming from behind led by All-American Isaiah Canaan as the Racers overcame a double digit deficit on the road at the number three team on our list. What impressed me was that senior Ed Daniel went to town on the boards grabbing 10 offensive boards for the team, something the Racers seem to give up every night. That being said they held the top rebounding team to just 7 offensive boards and won the battle of the boards. Bench play is starting to get better as well which the team needs. Racers are at home against EKU then at Austin Peay.
The Redhawks have looked shaky in their first two conference win’s having to overcome poor starts in order to get the victory, however when you are trying to make a statement game you just simply can’t let it slip away like they did against Murray State. I still see this team as the third best but its very subject to change as they go along. Tyler Stone and Nino Johnson need help and the guards have proven that they can be reliable, well sort of. SEMO can prove itself this upcoming week with huge road trips to Belmont and Tennessee State.
The injury of Robert Covington seems to have made this team stronger. It has allowed the Tigers to develope their role players that could make this team very deadly and put less pressure on the big man when he returns next month. Stepping up has been Patrick Miller who has led the team in all three of their conference wins thus far and they have gotten great production from Kellen Thornton as well as he has gone for double digits in each too. Tigers return home as they face UT Martin and then SEMO.
The Colonels needed runs in the second half of both games this week in order to keep the perfect record for the east division in cross division matchups. Their most telling game was against SIUE as we saw what could be the defining win for this team thus far. They were outshot but used turnovers and free throws to win the game. Its a team effort led by Mike DiNunno that has this team setting their sights on a bye for the conference tournament here early in the season. They hit the road this week going to Murray State, which could tell us how strong this team is, and then host rival Morehead State.
The Gamecocks go 0-2 this past week but look who they lost to and you can say well those are good losses, but they were at home. I would normally say those type of games will come back to haunt you come tournament time but this team can’t go to Nashville. This week they had a common problem, slow starts. For a defensive team like the Gamecocks they need time for the offense to get in a flow and it seems they do late in the first half. The Gamecocks will look to rebound as they go on the road to SIUE and Eastern Illinois.
The Eagles still turn the ball over but have progressed to where they are now turning their opponents over as well and have turned them into points as of late. Another nice stat that was cut down was the amount of free throws they allowed to opposing teams. Morehead got the wins they were in a sense supposed to win which is what you need in the harder east division. The Eagles go on the road to Austin Peay and then are at Eastern Kentucky.
The Cougars are getting healthy and Mark Yelovich is back but that wasn’t enough for the Cougars who were looking for the upset win at Eastern Kentucky. The Cougars are interesting to say the least. I really don’t what to say about this team except that they are right now in my opinion a borderline playoff team but need wins in cross divisional play to get it done. I’m giving them this week before I consider jumping off the bandwagon as they host Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech.
I really contemplated putting the Golden Eagles one more place down, but next week I might if they can’t right the ship. Jud Dillard runs the team and needs help and they just can’t get it for him. They get him help in their rivalry game against TSU but then he can’t make anything. It seems they just can’t get multiple guys into a rhythm and if they can’t sort this out they will be a double digit in my rankings. Golden Eagles continue their search for conference number one at Eastern Illinois and at SIUE.
The streak of 20 games is over, even though there is some controversy to the foul at the end. From my vantage point, I knew it would be called as the ref that made it had called everything down in the paint. That being said a win is a win, and it came on the boards for the Skyhawks this week. This was their strongest week we had seen in awhile. They used the momentum from the loss versus Murray State to carry over and beat Austin Peay. They look for a winning streak as they go to Tennessee State and Belmont. Ouch
You know there is a problem with your team when you coach is saying they are not an off the dribble team and yet that’s how they got their points. The Governors were once again a first half team and then just held on for dear life, but that could explain why they have three straight two point losses. Anthony Campbell continues to be hot from the arc, but as was state earlier, they are not an off the dribble team and Campbell relies on driving in and the kick out to him for his shots to fall. The Govs have fallen off the cliff, and look to rebound as they host Morehead State and then rival Murray State.
Averaged 52 points this week in their losses on the Death Valley swing. I’m not suprised and now I don’t know where there next game for a win is. With a certain team ending a losing streak the new one falls to this Panther team. The road is very tough for this team still searching here in January for a scorer it seems. They host Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State this week.