Before I get into my picks for tonight’s games, I want to give a shout out to Sports Illustrated, which has Milwaukee #1 among the teams that have a real chance to be bid-stealers over the next couple weeks.
That said, here are my picks for tonight’s games. Once again, if you’re going to be watching the Horizon League first round tonight, be sure to participate in our co-hosted Tournament Chat over at ChicagoNOW.com.
(3) Cleveland State over (10) UIC – The Vikings just have too much to overcome for the Flames. Forget Norris Cole, the conference Player of the Year, the Vikings have enough on the backs of Trevon Harmon and Aaron Pogue to put away UIC. This will be the last go-round for Robo Kreps, who should get a standing ovation when his career is over; Kreps dealt with some pretty hairy stuff and stuck with UIC through thick and thin.
(4) Valparaiso over (9) Youngstown State – I had to think about this game – no, really. Youngstown State nearly beat Valpo a month ago, and they nearly played the spoiler on Saturday. Valparaiso, on the other hand, lost three of their last four with losses to the 7 and 8 seed. But Youngstown’s success came at home, and I don’t see them beating Valpo in the ARC. No way.
(5) Detroit over (8) Loyola – The Ramblers’ 20-point schellacking of Valpo was eye-opening to say the least. With such a dominant victory and close loss at Butler, one might be willing to pick Loyola in a stagnant Calihan Hall. But the rims are odd in Detroit, and the Titans are 10-4 at home in 2010-11. If they kick it in to Eli Holman all night long, expect buckets all night long. Detroit will advance tonight.
(6) Wright State over (7) Green Bay – The Phoenix put a scare into the Raiders last month down at the Nutter Center before Vaughn Duggins banged home a game-winner. The Phoenix can win, absolutely. They need Bryquis Perine and Rahmon Fletcher to have great games, but the real key to the Phoenix puzzle is Alec Brown. If he can play to his potential as he has done in flashes this season, he could have a stat line that reads like this: 21 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks. Get close to that, and I expect the Phoenix to be very close to a victory. Without all three having phenomenal games, it’s going to be a tough road to the second round for Green Bay.
I hope to see everyone in the chat tonight!