The Horizon League rises to 10th in conference RPI following a couple great wins over some tough opponents.
The non-conference games are winding down (save the BracketBusters), and the Horizon League should feel fairly satisfied with its performance. Whoever comes out of the Horizon League should be pretty battle tested come tournament time.
In descending order…
10. Youngstown State (Overall Record: 4-5, Conference Record: 0-2, RPI: 234)
Recent Results: Lost to North Carolina State 67-50
Not a lot of excitement this week for the Penguins, and there doesn’t seem to be much on the horizon either. A game against the Golden Flashes of Kent State should be a difficult game for Jerry Slocum‘s bunch. Senior guard Vytas Sulskis continues to be the team’s best player, and as he goes, so too do the Penguins. Unfortunately, he needs a little more help than he’s received.
Up Next: Tuesday at Kent State (8-3)
9. Green Bay (4-7, 1-1, 172)
Recent Results: Beat North Dakota 72-68
I know the Phoenix just beat North Dakota, but they were very fortunate to do so. Needing a furious rally late in the second half, the Phoenix were able to pull out a close one, but this team will struggle mightily come January if they can’t get more production from their bench. Alec Brown has been an outstanding freshman for Green Bay, but as should be expected, much of his play has been quite inconsistent.
Up Next: Wednesday at Wyoming (6-6)
8. Milwaukee (6-7, 1-1, 166)
Recent Results: Lost to DePaul 61-47, Beat Bowling Green 72-69
The Panthers look frustrated on the court. They lack on the court leadership and are easily rattled. DePaul put on a clinic with their full court pressure that caused the Panthers to turn the ball over time and time again. Milwaukee needs to find consistent point guard play, and if they want to run their offense through the post, they need to find a post player that is capable of letting the offense flow through him. Anthony Hill hasn’t proved that he’s the guy for the job yet.
Up Next: December 30th at Wright State (7-5)
7. UIC (4-7, 0-2, 206)
Recent Results: Lost to Northern Illinois 82-80, Beat (#14) Illinois 57-54
Like the Panthers, UIC has been quite inconsistent so far. Their loss against Northern Illinois was a tough one, but their victory over in-state rival Illinois was HUGE. Coach Howard Moore has shown early in his career that he has the ability to be an outstanding coach in this league. Employing the 1-3-1 zone against Illinois was brilliant and shows that Moore isn’t going to just trot his guys out there and hope for the best. A few other Horizon League coaches could learn something from what Moore has done in his short time at UIC.
Up Next: Wednesday at Oregon State (4-6)
6. Valparaiso (5-4, 2-0, 77)
Recent Results: Beat IPFW 63-47, Beat Eastern Michigan 74-67
Two easy home wins were highlighted by the Crusaders’ victory over IPFW. Coach Homer Drew has been able to get a lot of production from his bench with Kevin Van Wijk and Jay Harris being the main weapons. The Crusaders will be a very tough team in the Horizon League during the stretch run.
Up Next: December 20th vs. Ball State (5-3)
5. Wright State (5-5, 0-1, 126)
Recent Results: Beat Central Michigan 53-49, Beat Miami (OH) 66-51
Wright State has had a solid non-conference but I’m still skeptical they’ll fare as well in Horizon League play due to their lack of frontcourt depth. Their victory over Oakland earlier in the season was an example of what they can do when everything comes together. But their loss against Southern Illinois leaves doubt in my mind that they’ll come to play each and every game. Still, they should be good enough to finish in the middle of the pack this year.
Up Next: Wednesday at Charlotte (5-6)
4. Loyola (8-4, 0-2, 214)
Recent Results: Lost to DePaul 81-74
As the schedule gets hotter, the Ramblers seem to get colder. Much like last year, Loyola has beat up several bad teams which has inflated their record. Loyola is a better team than they were last year, but the big question is, can they win in the Horizon League? Geoff McCammon and Ben Averkamp are trying to prove that they belong in the upper echelon of the league. Only time will tell…
Up Next: Wednesday at Texas-Pan American (3-10)
3. Detroit (6-5, 1-1, 177)
Recent Results: Beat Central Michigan 75-49
In their latest victory over Central Michigan, Ray McCallum finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. With the Newcomer of the Year award already sewn up, McCallum looks to lead a streaky Detroit team into conference play. There’s no question that they have the ability to stay with any team in the Horizon League. Its just a matter of which Detroit team will show up.
Up Next: Wednesday at Bradley (5-5)
2. Butler (5-4, 1-0, 44)
Recent Results: Beat Stanford 83-50
Matt Howard. Yep, that’s all you need to say. The senior forward has finally seemed to live up to his potential posting 27 points and 10 rebounds in a romp over Stanford. If Howard and Shelvin Mack can continue to take turns shouldering the load for the Bulldogs, another trip to the tourney is in the cards.
Up Next: Wednesday vs. Utah (7-3)
1. Cleveland State (10-1, 2-0, 14)
Recent Results: Lost to West Virginia 74-63
The Vikings put up a good fight against West Virginia, but came up a few possessions short. The reality is that Cleveland State probably hasn’t built up a good enough profile to earn an at-large bid in the tournament. They’ll need a victory over South Florida and a win in the BracketBuster to improve their standing, but at this point, the only thing that matters is the conference schedule. Win the conference, and you’re in….
Up Next: Wednesday vs. South Florida (6-6)
Filed under: Horizon League | Tagged: Alec Brown, Anthony Hill, Ben Averkamp, Butler Bulldogs, Cleveland State Vikings, Detroit Titans, Geoff McCammon, Green Bay Phoenix, Howard Moore, Jay Harris, Jerry Slocum, Kevin Van Wijk, Loyola Ramblers, Matt Howard, Milwaukee Panthers, Ray McCallum, Shelvin Mack, UIC Flames, Valparaiso Crusaders, Vytas Sulskis, Wright State Raiders, Youngstown State Penguins |