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NBA D-League Power Rankings: March 15, 2011

by Matthew Brennan, NBA

March 15, 2011: The Power Rankings return with the regular season winding down. Iowa holds on to the top spot with the league's best record at 32-11. The Energy lead Tulsa by 1.5 games for the opportunity to have first choice of their playoff opponent. Tulsa and Rio Grande Valley, in a tight battle for the lead in the Western Conference, round out the top three teams.

The Energy clinched the season series over Erie with a win at home on Sunday that put them four games up on the BayHawks with seven left to play. This week they host two sub .500 teams in Sioux Falls and Fort Wayne. MVP candidate Othyus Jeffers has returned to the team after a GATORADE Call-Up to the Spurs, but All-Star center Courtney Sims has left the team for an overseas offer.
The 66ers still lead the Western Conference by a half-game despite losing three of their first five games in March. They continue a road trip this week with visits to Idaho and New Mexico. Thunder center Byron Mullens has returned to the team for his third assignment of the season.
The Vipers were upset by Sioux Falls on Monday night and have also lost top scorer Jerel McNeal to a GATORADE Call-Up to the Hornets. Still in reach of first place in the West, they'll face Sioux Falls again on Tuesday before Austin and Idaho visit over the next week. Former Duke star Jon Scheyer is starting to heat up, averaging 19.0 points and 7.0 assists over his last two games.
The Jam swept Idaho over the weekend to improve their record to 10-3 since the beginning of February. They have a tough home slate this weekend with the Erie BayHawks coming to town. Trey Johnson, the NBA D-League's top scorer, will be looking to rebound after an uncharacteristic 14.0 points in the two games against Idaho.
The BayHawks will be hard pressed to capture the East Conference, but they'll still be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs. 3-3 in March, they head west this week to face Reno and Bakersfield. Forward Tasmin Mitchell earned Co-Performer of the Week honors with 23.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.3 steals in three games.
The Flash have now won 11 of their last 12 games after splitting a series in Reno before defeating Tulsa on Monday night. Standout guard Orien Greene has left the team to go overseas, but veteran Kevin Kruger looks like he will step up after scoring 31 points with five assists in Monday's win. The Flash meet the Bighorns again this weekend, this time at home in Orem.
The Bighorns split a pair of games against Utah and head on this road this week to face the Flash again. NBA veteran Danny Green continues to play excellent basketball, averaging 23.3 points and 9.7 rebounds in March.
The Mad Ants enter the week clinging on to the final playoff spot by a half-game. The are at home this week against Springfield, who they defeated twice last week in Massachusetts. A big addition to the team occured on Monday with the return of veteran forward Ron Howard. Howard averaged 20.6 points in 29 games for the Mad Ants last season.
The Toros are 3-2 in March and very much in the hunt for another playoff berth despite being seven games under .500. They are also without standout center Marcus Cousin, who earned a GATORADE Call-Up to the Jazz last week. A tough schedule lies ahead over the next week with visits to Rio Grande Valley and Tulsa on the schedule.
The Stampede hit a bump in the road when they were swept at home by Bakersfield, but they're still only a game and a half out of the final playoff spot. They'll look to bounce back and improve an 8-12 home record when Tulsa and Dakota visit Boise this week.
The Legends split a pair of home games with Austin over the weekend and are heading east this week to face the Maine Red Claws. They are currently a half-game behind the Mad Ants for the final playoff spot. NBA veteran Rashad McCants returned to the roster last week but he has yet to see any game action. He averaged 12.3 points in three games earlier in the season.
The Wizards split a pair on the road in New Mexico and continue their trip this weekend with two games in Idaho. 3.5 games behind Fort Wayne with seven games remaining, they'll need to rack up some more wins and need help to advance to the postseason. They'll have to do it without center Chris Johnson, who earned his third GATORADE Call-Up of the season when he returned to the Trail Blazers on Monday.
The Red Claws snapped a six-game winning streak with a big home win over Fort Wayne on Sunday. Mario West posted the first triple-double in team history with 27 points, ten rebounds, and ten assists. This week they stay at home to face the Texas Legends before playing five of their last six on the road.
The Thunderbirds fell to Dakota on Saturday, which marked the 16th straight game where they've given up over 100 points. 3-11 since February 1, they host Tulsa this weekend for two games.
The Skyforce have had a rough season, but they are playing well over the last few weeks with a 4-3 record in March. They'll look to complete a sweep of Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday before visiting Iowa on Friday. Patrick Ewing Jr. earned Co-Performer of the Week honors after averaging 20.7 points and 8.7 rebounds in three games.
The Armor are staggering down the stretch, losing in ten of their last 11 games heading into this week. They play seven of their last eight on the road with trips to Fort Wayne and Sioux Falls on the schedule this weekend. The Nets assigned rookie guard Ben Uzoh to the team on Tuesday.