By Matt DeVries | @DeVries_Matt
We’ve turned the page on another month in the high school basketball calendar and we’re inching closer to the MHSAA Tournament getting underway in four weeks. Teams have had ample opportunities to show us what they’re made of this season and the hierarchy in the Saginaw Valley League is beginning to come into focus.
New this season to the high school basketball landscape is the Michigan Powers Rankings (MPR). MPR is calculated using wins and losses in games played between teams entered into the MHSAA tournament. Scores of games, margin of victory and location of games are not included in the MPR formula. The final MPR number is 25% of the team’s winning percentage, plus 50% of its opponent’s winning percentage, plus 25% of its opponent’s winning percentage.
Basically, you’re rewarded for playing a good schedule. You’re still rewarded for winning your games. But it’s only a portion of the above equation. The better your opponents are, the higher you’ll be rated in the MPR. The higher you’re rated, the better seed you’ll receive in the MHSAA Tournament.
How are SVL teams faring in the MPR as we head into February?
Boys Division 1 (out of 181 teams)
3. Carman-Ainsworth – .685
5. Grand Blanc – .677
43. Mt. Pleasant – .589
61. Saginaw Heritage – .560
65. Saginaw – .559
Boys Division 2 (out of 181 teams)
39. Powers Catholic – .570
67. John Glenn – .534
Girls Division 1 (out of 181 teams)
3. Carman-Ainsworth – .693
9. Midland – .669
13. Dow – .656
36. Heritage – .601
42. Grand Blanc – .587
50. Bay City Western – .572
Girls Division 2 (out of 181 teams)
24. John Glenn – .570
Now we all know that MPR will only tell part of the story. Once the brackets are set and district play begins, the rankings go out the window and you just need to play the team that’s across from you. Outside the SVL, some other area schools have positioned themselves near the top of the MPR this season.
Taking a closer look at the win/loss standings after two full months of play, Mt. Pleasant (12-0) has still yet to lose a game. The Oilers, who have wins over Carman-Ainsworth and Heritage, have been led by the guard tandem Joe Ostrowsky and Mason Wojtusik this season. The schedule doesn’t get easier before the postseason as they have three straight road games at Saginaw, Heritage and Cadillac before hosting Grand Ledge. Those four schools have a combined record of 28-14 this season.
Despite losing four games already, the Carman Ainsworth (8-4) boys have the best resume of any team in the SVL this year. Those losses (Beecher, Clarkston, Mt. Pleasant, Grand Blanc) all came at the hands of teams that could very well make runs in the MHSAA Tournament this season; not to mention their combined records are an impressive 43-11. It’s one of the main reasons why the Cavaliers get so much respect in the MPR. Just three of their opponents have losing records and the Cavs have scheduled five non-league games this season.
Not to be outdone, Grand Blanc (10-3) has done much of the same scheduling difficult opponents outside of their mandated SVL schedule. The Bobcats have played nine non-league games with five of them coming in weekend tournaments or showcases. And that’s not all. They’ll still see Muskegon and Beecher before postseason play begins.
The picture on the girl’s side is less clear with three teams in the Top 15 of the MPR. But, the story of the Midland Chemics (12-1) is one that you don’t see very often. After being riddled by injury and going 5-16 one year ago, Midland is the one of the biggest storylines in the area this season. Upon taking over the Chemic program in 2017 after a highly-successful four-year run at Bay City All Saints, head coach Jaden Clobes has pushed Midland back to the top of the SVL.
It’s been an equally impressive start to the season for the Carman-Ainsworth (12-1) girls as they have just one blemish on their schedule. It was just last week on Jan. 28 and somewhat unexpected as Southfield A&T, with a modest record 9-5 this season, took down the Lady Cavs by double figures. When dissecting Carman-Ainsworth’s wins, four of them have come against teams towards the top of the girl’s MPR.
Not to be outdone or forgotten are the Dow Chargers (11-2), winners of seven in a row heading into Tuesday’s action. Their last loss came in December to Midland, for which they avenged on Jan. 31. The other blemish came at the hands of Howell, who ranks in the Top 20 in the MPR for Division 1.
Saginaw Valley League
Tues. Feb. 4 – Heritage @ Saginaw (Boys) – 7 p.m. on The Deuce
Fri. Feb. 7 – Heritage @ Dow (Girls) – 7 p.m.
Tues. Feb. 11 – Heritage @ Midland (Girls) – 7 p.m.
Fri. Feb. 14 – John Glenn @ Midland (Girls) – 7 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 15 – Saginaw @ Arthur Hill (Boys) – 1 p.m.
Tues. Feb. 18 – TBD – 7 p.m.
Fri. Feb. 21 – Mt. Pleasant @ Saginaw (Boys) – 7 p.m.
Tues. Feb. 25 – TBD – 7 p.m.
Fri. Feb. 28 – SVL Championship Games (Girls/Boys) – 6 p.m.
*All games are to be broadcast on ESPN 100.9-FM and the primary online stream unless otherwise noted.
For the Northwood Timberwolves, it’s all about being one of the eight teams to qualify for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament. The men currently sit a 11-10 and 6-7 in GLIAC play. They’re led by senior Trey McBride (12.0 ppg) and former Carman-Ainsworth star sophomore Ja’Kavien Lewis (11.7 ppg).
On the women’s side, they’ve won three out of their last give games and four of their last seven to improve their conference record to 4-9. While on the outside of the conference tournament picture currently, they’ll look to former Dow Charger junior Ellie Taylor (11.5 ppg) and freshmen Makenzie Todd (8.3 ppg) and Alli Keyser (7.7 ppg) over their final seven games to see if they can snatch one of those spots in the postseason.
Thurs. Feb. 6 – Northwood @ Lake Superior State – 5:30 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 8 – Northwood @ Ferris State (Men/Women) – 1 p.m. w/ Men on The Deuce
Thurs. Feb. 13 – Northwood @ Davenport – 5:30 p.m.
Sat. Feb. 15 – Grand Valley State @ Northwood – 4 p.m.
Thurs. Feb. 20 – Wayne State @ Northwood – 6 p.m. w/ Men on The Deuce
Sat. Feb. 22 – Ashland @ Northwood – 1 p.m.
Thurs. Feb. 27 – Northwood @ SVSU – 6 p.m.
*All Northwood matchups are doubleheaders with the women playing first, followed by the men unless otherwise noted. They are to be broadcast on ESPN 100.9-FM and the primary online stream unless otherwise noted.