Records through Wednesday's games; last rankings in parentheses, NR = previously unranked.
1. Michigan City (1) 4-0
The Wolves are averaging their wins by nearly 30 points per game and scoring as many as 93 points while remaining undefeated. That’s just the early part of the schedule. With the next five games in Duneland Athletic Conference play – including a Dec. 11 meeting against Merrillville – M.C. will need every available scorer to keep up its current pace.
2. Merrillville (2) 4-0
The Pirates’ biggest test of the early season comes Saturday, when they travel to Elkhart Memorial to meet the also undefeated Chargers. Since Merrillville beat Elkhart Memorial for the regional title in 2010, the two teams have split the series, each winning at home. The Pirates haven’t lost a regular-season game since Jan. 28, 2011, at Michigan City. But who’s counting?
3. Lowell (3) 4-0
Lowell is also holding tight to an undefeated record, starting 4-0 for the second time in three seasons. The versatile offense is keeping the Red Devils’ opponents hopping, but even greater is the defense that has held teams to an average of 27.8 points. Is this team too much for the Northwest Crossroads Conference?
4. West Side (5) 2-0
The Cougars gave themselves a wide berth to open the season, pacing the games out. Until now. South Bend Washington hits town Saturday with a 3-1 record, and West Side hasn’t played the Panthers since losing in 2009 to a Skylar Diggins-led team at the Civic Center. West Side is young, and now is the time to grow up.
5. Whiting (8) 5-0
Anyone surprised at the Oilers’ success simply hasn’t seen this team play. Backed by a bushel of talent, Whiting is reaping the rewards of a program long in the building process.
6. Portage (NR) 4-1
The Indians’ appearance in the Top 10 comes as their defense has held back two sectional teams already this season in Crown Point and Hobart. That has created a tough four-way tie for third in the DAC.
7. Hobart (10) 5-2
The Hobart-defined defense is showing again as the Brickies started their season 5-0 before losing to two teams with a combined 10-1 record (Northridge and Portage). A tough test awaits next week at Kankakee Valley, and how the team responds from back-to-back losses is huge to the success of the season.
8. Griffith (9) 5-2
Griffith could use some inside presence, but outside shooters are keeping the Panthers alive. An OT win over Hebron shows that this team has moxie.
9. Hebron (NR) 4-1
Tonight’s showdown against Hanover Central will help the Hawks prove where they are in their conference. The Wildcats entered as the presumptive favorites, but the rest of the league is showing off. A trip to Cedar Lake for more than just bragging rights puts conference hopes on the line.
10. Kankakee Valley (NR) 5-1
The Kougars’ only loss this season has been a season-opening fall to Valparaiso. Without a superstar, K.V. has shown how it’s possible to maintain an offense using every weapon available.
On the bubble: Gavit (4-2), LaPorte (4-1), Lake Central (3-3), Bishop Noll (4-1), E.C. Central (3-4), Hanover Central (2-2).