Horizon League Tournament Preview

The Horizon League men's basketball tournament kicks off Thursday February 25, at 7:00 p.m. All games will be televised on the networks of ESPN. After each round teams will be reseeded.

The first and quarter final rounds will be played on campus sites of the highest seed, and the semi finals and championship game are played at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis Indiana.

Lets look at the draws for the first round.

12. Robert Morris (4-14, 3-12) Vs. 5. Detroit Mercy (11-9, 10-6) 7:00 p.m. ESPN+

For the third straight game Robert Morris will take on Detroit Mercy. Over this past weekend the Titans defeated the Colonials 85-74 on Friday, and 80-61 Saturday evening.

RMU has struggled in their first season in the Horizon League losing eight straight games until they defeated Oakland on February 12th. Robert Morris will also be without their leading scorer AJ Bramah who transferred out of the program just a few short weeks ago.

Detroit Mercy has been on a roll after losing their first four conference game. The Titans have gone 10-2 over their past 12 games. They have been led by Antoine Davis who is averaging a Horizon League leading 23 points per game and also leads the team in assists with just under five assists per game.

11. UIC (9-12, 6-10) Vs. 6. Youngstown State (14-11, 9-11) 8:00 p.m. ESPN+

The Flames and the Penguins squared off twice this season splitting the series with UIC narrowly defeating YSU 67-66 at the Beeghly Center and Youngstown State beat the Flames by 12 the next day 85-77.

After starting off their Horizon League slate 5-2 the UIC Flames cooled off losing seven straight games starting with their Saturday afternoon loss to Youngstown State. They have won just one game since the contest on January 23rd. Teyvion Kirk leads the team in points averaging 14 points and in his two games against the Penguins he logged 16, and 15 points respectively.

YSU has had a roller coaster of a season coming into the first round of the conference tournament winning six of their last seven games. After a rocky start to the conference portion of their schedule they turned on the jets in the month of February just dropping Friday's game 72-70 against IUPUI. Naz Bohannon has been the rock of the Penguins offense averaging 16 points per game and right behind him was Darius Quisenberry who has logged 14 points per game over the season. Quisenberry returned from injury at the beginning of the month and has reached 20 points or more in three contests since returning to action.

10. Purdue Fort Wayne (7-14, 6-14) Vs. 7. Green Bay (8-16, 8-12) 8:00 p.m. ESPN+

In their two meetings this season Green Bay swept the Mastodons 77-59 and 87-72 back on January 22-23.

Just like fellow conference newcomer Robert Morris, Purdue Fort Wayne has struggled in conference play dropping five of their first six games in conference play. They then caught fire sweeping UIC at home and Milwaukee on the road. After winning four straight PFW struggled dropping eight of their last nine. Jarred Godfrey has been a stat sheet stuffer for the Mastodons leading the team in points (15), rebounds (5), assists (3), and steals (1.5).

The Phoenix have won and lost games in bunches dropping their first five conference games before going on a three game win streak to snap their runt. Sophomore guard Amari Davis is performing very well this season averaging 17 points per game this season in the second matchup against the Mastodons, Davis logged 18 points in the victory.

9. IUPUI (8-9, 7-9) Vs. 8. Milwaukee (8-11, 7-10) 8:00 p.m. ESPN+

These two squads met a total of four times Milwaukee Panthers got the best of the Jaguars in their first series winning both games pretty easily 94-70 in game one and 71-63 in the series finale. In the second two game set the teams split the series with IUPUI coming out on top 73-68 on January 29, while the Panthers got the best of the Jags the next day winning the game 83-76.

IUPUI just like many other Horizon League teams struggled out of the gates dropping their first four games before sweeping Northern Kentucky on January 15-16. Towards the end of the regular season schedule they strung together three wins by sweeping UIC and winning game one of their final series against Youngstown State. Marcus Burk has been a force for the Jags this season averaging 22 points per game in his senior season.

Milwaukee has struggled as of late losing five of their last six games but were able to get a win in the series finale against Oakland in double overtime. Junior guard Deandre Gholston leads the Panthers in points logging 16 points per game and against IUPUI in the four games he appeared in he averaged 14.5 points.

1 Cleveland State (16-7, 16-4) (Bye)

The Vikings hold a share of the regular season title with Wright State after winning six of their last eight games. This unprecedented season has treated CSU well as they were able to split their season series with Wright State. They were also able to sweep three seed Oakland and four seed Northern Kentucky. Senior Guard Torrey Patton is a team leading 14 points as the Vikings look to make a deep run into March.

2 Wright State (18-5, 16-4) (Bye)

The Raiders have had to face a lot of adversity this season losing two Friday night games in back to back weeks by buzzer beaters from Youngstown State and Cleveland State. But they rebounded well blowing both teams out the next game by thirty plus points. After winning their second straight conference regular season title the Raiders look to finally reach the Horizon for the first time since the 2017-18 season.

3 Oakland (10-17, 10-10) (Bye)

After losing their first nine games, including their first two games in conference play, the Golden Grizzles have quietly snuck their way into the third seed splitting the series against Wright State and sweeping Youngstown State. Jalen Moore leads the team in points averaging 17 points per game this season. Also, David Oladapo has torn it up as of late logging a double double in three of his past four ball games.

4. Northern Kentucky (13-10, 11-7) (Bye)

In the middle of conference play the Norse went on a four game skid as they were swept by top seeded Cleveland State, and IUPUI. Northern Kentucky then proceeded to go on a six game win streak, and in their final series they split against Wright State which slotted them at as fourth seed. Trevon Faulkner is leading the team in points averaging 16 points per game. Right behind him is Marques Warrick who has been a force in his freshman season averaging 15 points per game.

The Favorites

2. Wright State, 1. Cleveland State

According to TeamRankings both Wright State, and Cleveland State have the best chances to reach the Horizon League Championship game with the Raiders coming in at 84 percent chance of reaching the finals and a 72 percent chance to win the tournament. Cleveland State has a 40 percent chance of reaching the championship game and just an eight percent chance of making it to the conference tournament.

With Wright State playing as well as they did this season with the amount of double digit victories that they had it would be hard to bet against them to win the championship game. With star forward Louden Love, and Grant Basile they are going to give this field a lot of trouble during this tournament.

Dark Horse

3. Oakland, 5. Detroit Mercy

Even though Oakland struggled early on they have played the top teams in the tournament tough splitting their series against Wright State and dropping the second game of the Cleveland State series by just two points. If they can continue the narrative of playing games close they have a very good chase of finding a spot in the Championship game.

After the first round on February 25, the quarterfinals will start on Tuesday March 2, the semifinals will take place on Monday, March 8, then the Championship game will be on Tuesday, March 9th at 7:00 p.m.