This week’s Mid-American Conference women’s basketball power rankings are giving me a headache.
The top of the two divisions is really easy, because Buffalo has run away from the rest of the East Division and Central Michigan has a huge lead in the West Division. Should be a fun game when the two teams meet Wednesday in Mt. Pleasant, should it not?
But after that? That’s where the pain medication comes in handy. The second-place teams have a bit of an edge on the rest of their divisions, but confusion reigns after that. Daisy chains of “Team A beat Team B, Team B beat Team C, but Team C beat Team A” only add to the confusion.
The good news? We’re only at the halfway point in the season. There are plenty of games to sort this out — or to add to the confusion. That’s a sure recipe for me to grab more aspirin.
Here are the latest power rankings:
1) Buffalo (16-3, 7-1 MAC) — The Bulls carry a five-game winning streak into Wednesday’s contest at Central Michigan, not to mention a three-game advantage over second-place Ohio (and let’s not forget UB is halfway to the tiebreaker over the Bobcats). Win or lose, Buffalo needs to be sharp afterwards since a potential trap awaits: The Bulls’ next game is at Toledo, a tough place to play (Last week: 1).
2) Ohio (11-9, 5-4 MAC) — Just when the Bobcats seem to get on a roll, winning two consecutive games, they lose at Miami. And OU will have to feel the sting of a loss to its archrival for a full week before returning to the court Saturday. While the Bobcats will be at home, the “road” will be a difficult one as they host Ball State and Central Michigan in their next two games (Last week: 2).
3) Miami (12-8, 4-5 MAC) — After a four-game losing streak against tough competition, the RedHawks have won three of their past four. What’s more, Miami avenged a home loss to EMU by beating the Eagles on the road. This is an important week for Miami, as it plays two games on the road — but the games are winnable games at Northern Illinois and at Bowling Green (Last week: 3).
4) Bowling Green (10-10, 2-7 MAC) — The Falcons did not take advantage of their two-game win streak, losing their past three — with two of those losses coming at home, no less. The next three games are critical for BG, as they face a rematch at Kent State before hosting Miami and Western Michigan at the Stroh Center. It’s a doubly critical stretch because the Falcons play four of their final six on the road (Last week: 4).
5) Kent State (10-11, 3-6 MAC) — The Golden Flashes might be better than their record, which includes six losses in their past eight games. The wins? KSU beat Eastern Michigan to complete a sweep of the Eagles, and then knocked off Toledo at Savage Arena to end the Rockets’ long home winning streak. But the loss at Akron is not a good look. One thing in the Flashes’ favor: Six of their final nine games are at home (Last week: 5).
6) Akron (7-13, 1-8 MAC) — The Zips snapped their nine-game losing streak — and they beat their archrivals from Kent State to make the win sweeter. Their reward? They will play at Ball State and at Western Michigan this week, and four of Akron’s next five games will be on the road. But Saturday’s victory will not be the lone win for Akron this season (Last week: 6).
1) Central Michigan (16-3, 8-0 MAC) — The Chippewas remain the lone unbeaten in the MAC entering the first of two contests against Buffalo, with Wednesday’s game at home. Saturday’s contest against Western Michigan might have been the perfect prep: the Broncos had Central on the ropes, but the Chips found a way to win (Last week: 1).
2) Ball State (17-3, 6-3 MAC) — The Cardinals have won three in a row, and the victories have been comfortable. This will be an important week for BSU as it looks to create some separation from the rest of the West — and try to make up ground on CMU. The best test will come Saturday when Ball State plays at Ohio (Last week: 2).
3) Western Michigan (12-9, 5-4 MAC) — The Broncos gave Central Michigan all it could handle Saturday, actually leading the Chips on their home floor before a Jasmyn Walker injury in the final minutes caused them to lose a lead. Western Michigan will have to put that loss in the rear-view mirror quickly, as the Broncos host important home games against Toledo and Akron (Last week: 5).
4) Eastern Michigan (9-11, 5-4 MAC) — The Eagles struggled with illness that decimated their ranks, suffering a home loss to Miami before losing a high-scoring game at Buffalo. And the schedule-maker gives and takes away this week: EMU won’t play Wednesday, giving them a chance to get healthy. But when the Eagles return to action, they will play Central Michigan (at home) and then at Ball State (Last week: 3).
5) Toledo (14-7, 5-4 MAC) – OK, which team are the Rockets: the team who could not throw the ball into the ocean in a home loss to Kent State, or the one that could have threaded a needle from behind the 3-point line in the win at Bowling Green? We might find out quickly, as UT plays at Western Michigan on Wednesday before hosting high-flying Buffalo on Saturday (Last week: 4).
6) Northern Illinois (10-10, 2-7 MAC) — The Huskies are putting up strong efforts despite losing their last six, including road losses at Ohio and Ball State last week. Even with two point guards out for the season with injuries, NIU continues to score. Here’s a bold prediction: The Huskies’ next four games are at home against Miami, at Kent State and at Akron, then home against Bowling Green — and Northern Illinois will win at least two of those contests (Last week: 6).
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