By Seth J. Walker
Welcome to the January edition of the Women’s College Basketball Power Rankings. For those of you who didn’t see the ones from January, this will rank all the local women’s college basketball teams in Metro Detroit (and Ann Arbor) for Division I, Division II, and NAIA. For each team, I’ll provide a (relatively) brief description of that team’s recent performances.
NCAA Division I
1. #13/14 Michigan 18-3 (8-2 Big Ten)- The Wolverines are rolling right now with six straight wins, including beating Ohio State on the road and demolishing Michigan State at home. Katelynn Flaherty continues to rewrite the record books at Michigan and now in the Big Ten. What makes this team dangerous now though is the supporting cast she has. Hallie Thome scores in the inside and rebounds. Nicole Munger hits threes. Jillian Dunston rebounds and rebounds some more. They now trail Maryland by mere percentage points for first place in the conference.
2. (Tie) Eastern Michigan 9-11 (5-4 MAC)- The Eagles struggled in non-conference play, but got things going in MAC play. They’ve lost two straight now but only trail Ball State by a game for second place in the MAC West, tied with Toledo and Western Michigan. As bunched up as the conference standings are, the Eagles still very much have a chance at a top-four seed and with it, a first round bye.
2. (Tie) Oakland 11-9 (4-5 Horizon League)- The Golden Grizzlies were looking good entering conference play, but stumbled a bit. At one point, they lost three straight, but got a big win over rival Detroit Mercy to regain some confidence. Leah Somerfield had a monster performance in that game with 27 points and 18 rebounds. If she comes even close to matching those numbers on a regular basis, then Oakland can be real dangerous down the stretch. The Golden Grizzlies are currently sixth in the conference; a game and half behind Cleveland State and a half game ahead of Youngstown State, its next opponent. Cleveland State will be the next opponent after that, so Oakland has a chance to move up in the conference standings.
4. Detroit Mercy 1-19 (1-8 Horizon League)- To say the Titans have struggles this season would be a massive understatement. After going 0-11 in non-conference play, the they now sit in ninth place in the conference with their only win so far coming against UIC, the one team still without a win in Horizon League play. Brianne Cohen can score inside. If Anja Marinkovic and Nicole Urbanick can be more consistent outside threats, then the Titans can maybe make a run before the Motor City Madness in March.
NCAA Division II
1. Wayne State 14-4 (9-3 GLIAC)- The Warriors are rolling with a seven-game win streak, including a big win over then No. 12 Michigan Tech, and now only trails that time by a singe game in the for the third seed in the conference. It’s pretty much assumed that Ashland, the undefeated, top ranked team in Division II, will win the GLIAC South. However, the Warriors can secure second place with more if they keep rolling. They have a two-game lead over Northwood for the fourth seed in the conference, so they’re in good shape right now in terms of securing a first-round home game.
1. #19 Lawrence Tech 20-4 (12-3 WHAC)- The Blue Devils are rising higher in the national rankings, winning seven straight. The Blue Devils only have one loss since the new year, and that came to No. 8 Indiana Tech. The Blue Devils avenged one of their only three conference losses by beating Rochester College in overtime and will have the chance to do the same later this season on the road against Indiana Tech and Cornerstone. The good news for the Blue Devils is that they’re undefeated on the road in conference play. They’re trail Indiana Tech by two games for first place and hold a game and a half lead over its next opponent, Aquinas College.
2. Concordia 16-9 (9-6 WHAC)- The Cardinals are among a handful of teams bunched up in the WHAC standings. Only three games separate third place from seventh place, and Concordia is right in the middle in fifth. The Cardinals only trail Aquinas by a half game for the fourth seed and a first round game in the WHAC tournament, but only leads Rochester College, a team they recently lost to, by a game. This team wants to avoid a repeat of last season where they entered they last couple regular season games battling for the fourth seed, only lose both and settle for the seventh seed. Therefore, every game is important from here on out.
3. Rochester College 13-10 (8-7 WHAC)- The Warriors have been a very up and down team this season. They can be dangerous when they want to, with wins over Lawrence Tech and Concordia to prove it, but also has losses to Madonna and Northwestern Ohio. Currently, they’re sixth, trailing Concordia by a single game, but only leading Siena Heights by the same margin. The Warriors still have a lot to play for.
4. Madonna 9-13 (5-9 WHAC)- This season has been tough for the Crusaders. Becca Sabol seems to have found her groove again as arguably the conference’s best post scorer, but someone else needs to step up to be that consistent secondary scorer. They currently occupy the eighth and final WHAC Tournament spot. The Crusaders have a key game coming up against Northwestern Ohio, who trails they by two games. A win here can definitely bolster their tournament hopes.
5. Michigan-Dearborn Wolverines 6-18 (1-14 WHAC)- The Wolverines are at the bottom of the WHAC. The thing about this group is that they have heart. They gave Lawrence Tech issues both times they faced that team, but couldn’t sustain that effort for the whole team. They’re all but eliminated from WHAC Tournament contention, but will look to play the role of spoiler going forward.
Stay tuned for next month’s power rankings, which should be the final edition in the regular season. You heard it from me, Seth Walker.