Well, I didn't wait very long to shake things up a little in these Power Rankings, did I?
Some of the shake-ups are to be expected. For example, Bowling Green's bad home loss to Northern Illinois dropped the Falcons in the standings, while Western Michigan's nice win against Toledo in its opener pushed them up the standings.
But nine of the 12 teams changed positions from last week. And some of the changes, well, let's just say there are a few surprises, OK?
For those of you new to the rankings, the premise is simple: If the MAC didn’t have divisions, how would the league’s 12 teams be ranked? These rankings are based on on-court performance, RPI rankings … and gut feelings.
So here they are, my Power Rankings for MAC men’s basketball (The “LW” stands for each team's rank “last week” in these rankings) …
1. AKRON (10-5, 2-0 MAC) (LW #1): I was surprised to hear from so many Zips fans who thought this team may not be worthy of this spot quite yet. But I think the double-overtime win over a strong Ohio team on the road proves the value of a tough non-conference schedule. A team that takes a tough road may hit some bumps along the way, but it will make them stronger when the important tests arise. RPI: 107.
2. OHIO (11-4, 1-1 MAC) (LW #3): Yeah, I know this team lost last week and still moved UP in the standings. But forcing Akron to double-overtime while still trying to work out how to deal with the loss of Ricardo Johnson was a feather in this team’s cap, in my opinion. And I think opening with a win on the road at Kent State deserves some credit as well. The road gets easier in the next few days as the Bobcats have two winnable games ahead. RPI: 69.
3. WESTERN MICHIGAN (9-5, 2-0 MAC) (LW #5): The Broncos opened the conference season with a promising win over Toledo. Yes, it was at home, but holding a home-court advantage over a strong team is part of rising to a spot among the MAC elite. I look forward to seeing how WMU handles playing in a tough environment Tuesday when it plays at EMU, and on Jan. 23 when the Broncos are at Kent State. RPI: 130.
4. TOLEDO (13-2, 1-1 MAC) (LW #2): I know Rockets fans were upset at not being at the top of the heap last week, and I know they will be upset at falling two spots after losing on the road to one of the league’s better teams. What UT fans need to remember is this: The pre-season schedule didn’t have many “big” wins, and losing to WMU, regardless of the venue, isn’t a way to remain near the top. Want to return to the top? Beat Buffalo at home Jan. 15, then win at Akron Jan. 18. I promise the Rockets will move up with two wins. RPI: 49.
5. BUFFALO (8-4, 2-0 MAC) (LW #6): The Bulls seem to be coming together, especially after a solid win over Eastern Michigan. The path becomes a little tougher this week, beginning with the Jan. 15 game at Toledo. UB then must face Kent State before going on the road for two games (Ball State and Northern Illinois) that are must-win if this team wants to compete for the East Division crown. RPI: 92.
6. EASTERN MICHIGAN (9-6, 1-1 MAC) (LW #4): Opening with a road win at Bowling Green was a nice start, but the Eagles weren’t able to claim a second road win while at Buffalo. Now is the time for EMU to begin its push for the top of the MAC West, beginning with the Jan. 14 home game against league unbeaten WMU. A win there, and a win at CMU Jan. 18 would open the door for a long winning streak as the next three are at home. But caution: two of those home games are against Akron and Ohio. RPI: 51.
7. KENT STATE (10-5, 1-1 MAC) (LW #7): I have a feeling the Golden Flashes will regret opening the season with a home loss to Ohio, although there is plenty of road still to travel. And for this team, “road” is the operative word as KSU is away from home for three of its next four, including games at Buffalo (Jan. 18) and at Toledo (Jan. 26). And the only home game also will be a big one as the Flashes host WMU Jan. 23. RPI: 181.
8. NORTHERN ILLINOIS (7-7, 1-1 MAC) (LW #9): The Huskies first league road win wasn’t pretty, but beating Bowling Green certainly was a good victory for this program. It’s especially important when you factor in this team’s upcoming schedule, which includes home games against Kent State and Ohio, a road game at Toledo, and then a home game against Buffalo. If this team wants to do more than just wallow at the bottom of the West standings, NIU must win at least one of those four and probably should shoot for at least a .500 record. RPI: 197.
9. MIAMI (5-8, 1-1 MAC) (LW #12): This is a team I might have been too negative about in the first set of Power Rankings. The RedHawks found a way to win at Central Michigan, then pushed Western Michigan to the brink before losing. Are they better than I thought? We’ll find out soon enough, because after a tough game at Akron, the schedule hands the RedHawks Ball State, Central Michigan and Bowling Green. While the BSU and BGSU games are on the road, is two wins out of three too much to ask? RPI: 149.
10. BOWLING GREEN (6-9, 0-2 MAC) (LW #8): Last week in this space I wrote, “Up until the last week or so I have been impressed by the Falcons this season.” I also said the “road” is set for a fast start in MAC play because BG plays its first three games at home. Well, I may have been a little too positive about the Falcons. They suffered a tough home loss to Eastern Michigan, then suffered a disastrous home loss to NIU. Beating CMU on Jan. 15 is essential, because the Falcons next two games are at Western Michigan and at Ohio, meaning a loss to the Chippewas could result in an 0-5 MAC start ... or worse. RPI: 202.
11. BALL STATE (3-10, 0-2 MAC) (LW #11): The Cardinals have lost nine in a row against Division I schools, but losses to Akron and Kent State are at least understandable, and forgivable to a point. Playing at Ohio Jan. 15 probably won’t help this team turn things around, but winning at home against Miami Jan. 18 is essential. If the Cards lose that contest, they could start MAC play 0-7 because they have Buffalo, Western Michigan and Akron on the schedule to follow. RPI: 314.
12. CENTRAL MICHIGAN (7-7, 0-2 MAC) (LW #10): The Chippewas may regret losing the league opener to Miami Jan. 8, but losing at Toledo three days later certainly isn’t a sin. And the schedule-maker may have given CMU a gift, because even though the team is on the road, the opposition is a struggling BG squad that hasn’t surpassed 60 points in its last four games. And CMU gets a chance to avenge that opening loss when it plays Miami on the road Jan. 22. RPI: 256.