It’s still a little bit early for any team to be running away with things in our power rankings, but a handful of teams look really strong early on and a couple of surprise teams have maintained their strong starts from last week. Let’s get right into it:
(Last week’s ranking in parenthesis)
1. Mott Community College (1): Mott is off to a 4-0 start and the Bears have won 26 consecutive games dating back to last season. Mott hosts Lansing Community College tonight in what could be a preview of the state championship game between teams in the MCCAA East and West. Mott hasn’t lost a conference game at home in nearly four years.
2. Kalamazoo Valley Community College (2): The team has continued its undefeated start with two impressive wins along the way, knocking off Oakland Community College (No. 10 in the country at the time) and defeating a very good Owens Community College team. The team has been led by a trio of double-digit scorers — freshman Jevonte Hughes is scoring 14.8 points per game and sophomores LeDale Griffin and De’Tavia Moore are averaging 12.5 and 10.3 points per game respectively.
4. Lansing Community College (NR): LCC bounced back from two losses in its own tournament (albeit to tough teams, Owens and Triton) with a nice win over a solid St. Clair Community College team. Does LCC have what it takes to end Mott’s winning streak? We’ll find out tonight.
5. Oakland Community College (NR): It was essentially a toss-up for me here. Kirtland Community College hasn’t played a tough schedule to this point, so it’s hard to predict whether the team’s 3-1 record will hold up. SC4 and GRCC, the other teams I have on the cusp of my top five, also haven’t played tough schedules and their claims so far are good performances, albeit losing ones, to Lansing (SC4) and Mott (GRCC). Oakland, meanwhile, has played three quality opponents, losing two of those games but also knocking off No. 13 Danville Community College. Oakland started the season slow with a 1-3 record, but the team has won two straight and should be a fixture in these rankings the rest of the way.
2. Davenport (2): Since losing to No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan on Nov. 3, Davenport has won four straight games, three of them over ranked teams, including a win over conference rival Cornerstone that, for now, puts the Panthers in the driver’s seat in their quest to repeat as WHAC champs. Davenport has moved up to No. 9 in the country in this week’s NAIA rankings.
3. Madonna (4): Madonna has already defeated a ranked team (Indiana Tech) and played Division I Eastern Michigan tough, trailing the Eagles by single digits at halftime. Back-to-back big games are coming up, as Madonna faces No. 15 Cornerstone and No. 9 Davenport on Dec. 9 and 12.
4. Cornerstone (3): After an undefeated start to the season, Cornerstone has last two of three. The team’s win in that stretch was an impressive one over Hope, and the Crusaders have five players — Wes Hudson, Derek Kingshott, Ty Mason, Shane Moreland and Jake Plite — averaging double figures in scoring this season.
5. Spring Arbor (5): After starting the season 5-1, Spring Arbor has lost two straight. The team does, however, boast a high-scoring trio that will keep the Cougars in most games. Rob Hogans is averaging 20.7 points per game, Chris Bellamy is scoring 15.9 per game and Matt Howe is averaging 14.4.
Falling out from last week: N/A
1. Calvin College (2): The Knights, who have started this season 6-0, are already almost halfway to last year’s win total of 13. The team has won both the Calvin Tip-Off Classic and the Grand Rapids Hall of Fame Classic tournaments, has a deep, experienced roster and has four players scoring in double figures. Four of Calvin’s six wins have been by 20 or more points.
2. Adrian College (1): Adrian is 5-0 and has won four of those five by double figures. Sophomore guard Eric Lewis continues to be one of the state’s top players, averaging nearly 20 points per game, leading three Bulldogs who average double-figures. Adrian’s defense has been strong, holding opponents to just 35 percent shooting.
3. Hope College (3): Hope hasn’t started the season as strong as expected. The team is 2-2 after losing at home to Cornerstone in the Grand Rapids Hall of Fame Classic. Hope was the tournament’s defending champion and the Flying Dutchmen famously rarely lose on their homecourt, one of the toughest small-school gyms to play in in the country. Nate Snuggerud is off to a strong start for the team, averaging 18.0 points per game.
4. Albion College (4): The Britons, 2-2, have been competitive in every game this season. Avoiding a late tip-in at the buzzer against Wabash and getting off to a better start against Franklin could have Albion at 3-1 or 4-0 right now.
5. Kalamazoo College (NR): Kalamazoo hadn’t played a game yet last week when I debuted the power rankings. The team has been 1-1 since then, including a road win over Earlham. The team’s loss came in double-overtime against Manchester. Grant Carey is averaging 21.0 points per game and Mark Ghafari is scoring 19.5 per game.
Falling out from last week: Olivet College (5)
1. Hillsdale (1): The team is 3-0 and getting balanced scoring, let by Tim Dezelski and 18.0 points per game. Hillsdale opens GLIAC play Thursday, but keep an eye on two games in December — at Michigan Tech on Dec. 8 and hosting Grand Valley State on Dec. 15.
4. Saginaw Valley State (4): The team has been idle since the last set of rankings, so we’ll just repeat what we went with last week:
The Cardinals are off to a nice 2-1 start under new coach Randy Baruth. The team’s trio of talented players — Brett Beland, Chris Webb and Rob Clark — could make SVSU one of the state’s most improved teams this season.
5. Lake Superior State (5): Ditto for LSSU, the team has been idle and remains 2-1. My take last week:
Another team that struggled last season, LSSU is off to a 2-1 start, including a win over a school the Lakers had never previously beaten. The team also played pretty well in a loss to Division I Central Michigan.
Falling out from last week: N/A
1. Michigan (1): Michigan has answered some of the concerns about whether or not they’d been over-hyped with a 6-0 start, including an impressive win over No. 18 NC State on Tuesday. The biggest difference between this team and previous John Beilein squads at Michigan? Athleticism. Via AnnArbor.com:
“I’ve frankly never had (this kind of athleticism),” Michigan coach John Beilein said after his third-ranked Wolverines improved to 6-0 win a 79-72 win over the Wolfpack. “I sort of like it. It’s pretty good.”
Other than nearly decapitating the Governor, everything has gone well for Michigan so far.
2. Michigan State (2): The Spartans continue to be a work in progress. The team is 5-1 but has struggled in three of the wins over Mid Major opponents.
3. Western Michigan (3): The Broncos have been idle since last week, but they might be the biggest early surprise of any team in the state. Working several new faces into the lineup, Western has managed a 4-1 start, including a win over the Big East’s South Florida, a NCAA Tournament team last season.
4. Eastern Michigan (NR): The Eagles have won four straight since losing to Jacksonville State in the second game of the season and three of those four wins have been by double figures. Two of the teams were NAIA opponents, however. The Eagles will be tested mightily in December, with games against Syracuse, Purdue, Michigan and Kentucky on the schedule.
5. Detroit (4): After the Titans got off to a 2-1 start, I wrote this last week:
The team has lost two games since and Anderson has scored 15 points combined on 6-for-21 shooting. Anderson has shown improvements this season, but the Titans desperately need efficient offense out of him.
Falling out from last week: Oakland (5)