LAST POLL: #6
With an average of 57.3 points per game, the Slicers aren’t looking to get into shootouts, but their smothering defense, which only surrenders 48.3 points a game, has led them to a 9-3 mark. That defense is going to have to be at the top of its game coming up as three of their next four are against Chesterton, Michigan City and Crown Point.
EC CENTRAL CARDINALS
LAST POLL: #9
Central’s 6-6 record isn’t up to East Chicago standards, but when you take into account the Cardinal opponents have a combined .700 winning % and that four of those losses have come by five points or less, you’ll see this team is better than their record shows. EC defeated Bowman on Tuesday night, in what was their first game since 12/26 – it was only a two point win, so the Cards were clearly rusty – gotta shake that off in a hurry if they want to stay in the rankings.
LOWELL RED DEVILS
LAST POLL: #8
Just when you think the Devils are getting it together, they need a Nick Mantis buzzer beater to escape Highland with a win. Next up is Griffith, which brings its 11 wins to Lowell for another classic showdown this Friday at “The Inferno” …oops, wrong venue, this game will be played indoors. We’re still getting used to the Devils and Panthers playing a big game that isn’t football.
LAST POLL: #4
It’s been a rough couple weeks for the Trojans as they’ve dropped three of their last four, including a couple at the Noblesville Tournament and then a nail biter at home to Merrillville. Even with the setbacks, the Trojans have an offense that averages just shy of 70 points a game, so they’ll be competitive all season long.
LAST POLL: #5
There was a lot of uncertainty around the Niners this year after transfers and coaching changes, but so far Andrean’s been one of the best surprises of the campaign. Not only do they sit with a 9-1 mark at the time of this week’s rankings, seven of their nine victories have come by double digits. The January 26 showdown against Griffith will be huge in the NCC title race. Familiar with the saying “packed to the rafters”?
LAST POLL: #7
As the last remaining undefeated team in the Region, some may think the Panthers should be ranked higher. And while 11-0 in January usually puts a team at the top, consider this: Griffith’s 11 wins have come against teams who only win about three out of every 10 games they play. The Top 10 team that’s played the second weakest schedule is Lowell, whose opponents win about half their games. We’ll find out more this weekend, as the first true tests come Friday at Lowell and Saturday at Crown Point. Wow – what a weekend!
CROWN POINT BULLDOGS
LAST POLL: #1
After an 8-0 start, the ‘Dogs have dropped two of the last three, including their first home loss since February 7, 2015. There’s no time for sulking though, as a difficult weekend is ahead, with a road date against Merrillville Friday followed by a Saturday night homer with the team you just read about.
MICHIGAN CITY WOLVES
LAST POLL: NR
The Wolves have played well all season, then they came to Lake County and got the better of the Bulldogs to open conference play – easier said than done – and therefore City takes a big leap in the rankings. Up next is a Friday night homer with Valpo, the team just ahead of them in the poll. That’s life in the Duneland – what have you done for me lately?
LAST POLL: #2
Were the Vikings looking past Penn on Saturday or is there another reason the Kingsmen were able to pull off the upset? Whatever it was, Valpo needs to shake it off before heading to the Wolves Den for their Friday night conference clash with the team that’s hot on their heels.
LAST POLL: #3
The Pirates survived a close shave by Chesterton on Saturday in the DAC opener. That, along with Crown Point’s loss the same night, wipes out a potential #1 vs #2 matchup this Friday, but it doesn’t change the marquee value of this game. Get to Englehart early – this should be a good one.