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. Kalamazoo Valley Community College (2): KVCC is off to a 10-0 star and, as I wrote last week after interviewing their coach Matt Dennis, the team is getting great contributions from several players on the roster. Freshman Jevonte Hughes is one of the most productive players in the state. KVCC moves up to the top spot over the defending national champs this week because they have two wins this season over the team that ended Mott’s 27-game winning streak, Owens (Ohio) Community College. KVCC is now up to No. 5 in the national poll.
2. Mott Community College (1): Mott’s long winning streak ended last week. It couldn’t go on forever, after all, but the Bears got right back on track, bouncing back with a good win over No. 8 Moraine Valley Community College. The loss knocked Mott from No. 1 to No. 4 in the national poll. Mott gets a chance to avenge that loss to Owens — coached by former Mott assistant Dave Clarke — on Dec. 20.
3. Glen Oaks Community College (3): Glen Oaks also continues to roll, improving to 8-1 on the season with a victory over Owens Dec. 8. Sophomore Will Powell is one of he top scorers in the state, averaging 20.2 points per game on 49 percent shooting. Every JUCO fan on the west side of the state should be counting down the days until KVCC and Glen Oaks play for the first time on Jan. 9. Should be a great game.
4. Oakland Community College (4): OCC has won four straight games since a sluggish start to the season, and boasts one of the state’s highest scoring duos. Forward Kallante Miller his averaging 21.9 points per game on 58 percent shooting and getting 4.7 rebounds per game. Guard Aaron Hayes has struggled shooting the ball (just 30 percent overall), but he is scoring 15.2 points per game largely because he’s an absolute master at using his strong frame to draw contact and get to the line (he’s averaging 8.8 free throw attempts per game).
5. Grand Rapids Community College (5): The biggest accomplishment to date for the season remains playing Mott close early in the season. Since, the Raiders have played a weak schedule, but to their credit, they keep winning. Their next three games — against Illinois Central, South Suburban and KVCC should tell us a lot about where GRCC will fit in the Western Conference pecking order this season.
Falling out from last week: (None)
1. Rochester College (1): Finally, Rochester is rightfully ranked in the NAIA Top 25, coming in at No. 23 this week, ending an embarrassment of having a team that has beaten and been competitive with Division I programs this year unranked in the NAIA national poll. Rochester lost exhibitions to Oakland University and University of Detroit this week, but other than those expected losses, the Warriors continue to roll. It’s truly hard to pick a No. 1 team between Rochester and Davenport this season. And unfortunately, since they do not play each other, it will be hard to compare. The schools do have one common opponent — Lawrence Tech — and both won that game pretty easily, Rochester 62-27 and Davenport 66-43.
2. Davenport (2): Davenport is now up to No. 6 in the national poll and has won eight straight games. Three players average more than 10 points per game for Davenport — Javontae Ford at 16.8 points per game, Dominez Burnett at 12.5 and Gabe VanderJagt at 11.4.
3. Madonna (4): Madonna, ranked No. 25 in the country, moves up a spot after knocking off Cornerstone on Saturday. Madonna, which has the league’s reigning player of the week Bobby Naubert, will face Davenport tonight, trying to hand the Panthers their first conference loss.
4. Cornerstone (3): Cornerstone is part of a group of three strong teams, along with Madonna and Indiana Tech, situated behind Davenport in the standings. With Davenport off to such a strong start, Cornerstone and Madonna, at two losses each, don’t have much more margin for error. The team has one of the most balanced lineups in the conference, with four players averaging double figures in scoring.
5. Spring Arbor (NR): Spring Arbor fell out of our top five last week after losing three straight games, but they’ve responded nicely since, winning three straight to improve to 8-4. Rob Hogans, averaging 19.1 points per game, is the fourth leading scorer in the Crossroads League.
Falling out from last week: Concordia (5)
1. Adrian College (1): The Bulldogs are off to a 7-0 start and were named the team of the week by national Division III hoops radio show ‘Hoopsville.’ Eric Lewis is one of the top scorers in the league at 19.3 points per game and two other Bulldogs are averaging in double figures. Adrian is winning with defense, giving up a league-low 48.7 points per game.
2. Calvin College (2): After losing two straight, Calvin rebounded with a blowout win over Finlandia Dec. 8. Tyler Kruis is averaging 13 points per game, leading three Knights who score in double figures.
3. Hope College (3): Hope has fallen out of the national rankings and boasts a so-so 4-4 record, but the team has also played a tough schedule to this point and, despite the record, is still the top scoring team in the MIAA at 78.8 points per game.
4. Albion College (4): Albion will look back on its start to the season with some regret down the road. The team has a 3-4 record, but among those four losses, the Britons missed 14 free throws in a game they only lost by five points, lost on a tip-in in the final seconds in a game they led most of the way and lost another game that they had leads in in the second half. On the bright side, despite the losses, Albion has been competitive so far this season, even if having another win or two out of that group would be nice.
5. Olivet College (NR): The team’s 3-4 record is so-so, but the Comets are one of only four teams in the league averaging more than 70 points per game this season. If they can improve the defense just a bit, they have a chance to be a surprise team when conference play opens.
Falling out from last week: Alma College (5)
1. Grand Valley State (2): Since a loss in the second game of the season, GVSU has won six straight games to improve to 7-1. The team is getting valuable contributions from several players, with four players averaging more than eight points per game, led by Ryan Sabin at 13.0 points per game. The GVSU defense is holding opponents to just 36 percent shooting.
2. Wayne State (3): Two different Warriors — Chene Phillips and Mike Hollingsworth — have won GLIAC Player of the Week awards in consecutive weeks. The team has a big test tonight, hosting undefeated Drury.
3. Hillsdale (1): Hillsdale lost its first game of the season, and with two teams off to undefeated GLIAC starts, that will cost Hillsdale two spots in our rankings. Tim Dezelski continues to put up strong numbers, averaging 15 points and nine rebounds per game.
5. Ferris State (NR): Ferris enters the rankings for the first time this season after improving to 3-1 in the GLIAC with a win over Tiffin. The Bulldogs have a potent offense, with Kenny Brown and Drew Lehman combining to average 33 points per game.
Falling out from last week: Saginaw Valley State (5)
1. Michigan (1): Michigan is cruising through its non-conference schedule and the team has shown very little weakness. The Wolverines have great guard play, great shooting, speed, athleticism, unselfishness, size, toughness and defense. In short, they have everything it takes to contend for a national title.
2. Michigan State (2): Michigan State has been the anti-Michigan when it comes to making its non-conference slate look easy. MSU’s 8-2 record is fine, but the team has labored against Mid-Major opponents and is still struggling to find a consistent go-to player as well as reliable perimeter shooting.
3. Eastern Michigan (4): The Eagles jump up in the rankings with a nice statement win over Purdue last week, one of the biggest wins in the program’s recent history. If EMU can follow that up by a good performance against Michigan, they’ll look like a favorite in the MAC this season.
4. Western Michigan (3): Western is still off to an impressive and somewhat unexpected start this season, but the Broncos have lost two straight now.
5. Detroit (5): The Titans have won three straight, rebounding nicely from a three-game losing streak (albeit against easier competition than they faced during the losing streak). Oh, and Doug Anderson did this.
Falling out from last week: Central Michigan (5)