As we speak, the Horizon League Tournament is underway with the first rounds matchups consisting of the Wright St. Raiders at UIC Flames and the Youngstown St. Penguins at Detroit Titans. Unfortunately, I don’t believe any of those teams will punch their tickets into the field of 68, as the Horizon League really consist of four highly competitive teams with talent. The top four teams are what I’m referring to in the Oakland Golden Grizzlies, Cleveland St. Vikings, Valparaiso Crusaders and Green Bay Phoenix. They all have either traded wins with each other or have played very close games, with home court usually aiding the victories. A factor, in which could be an indicator when predicting the winner from the Horizon League tournament, as home court advantage has aided the top four teams heavily with a 97% win percentage in the 32 games.
I believe that it come down to the two favorites in the Green Bay Phoenix and Valparaiso Crusaders, both whom will make for excellent NCAA tournament teams. Each team has excellent players, as the Phoenix are lead by future NBA player Keifer Sykes and the Crusaders have a stud on the rise in Alec Peters. They have both traded closely contested wins, as they were decided by a total of four points, so expect another battle if this finale does come into fruition. If it does, the game will be contested on Valparaiso’s home court, one in which they’ve protected 13/14 games. As for a prediction, I’m going to have to go with the Valparaiso Crusaders to win the Horizon League tournament and punch their ticket into March Madness. The Green Bay Phoenix are battle tested, playing the likes of the Wisconsin Badgers and Miami (FL) Hurricanes on the road, actually blowing out the Hurricanes in a huge upset. However, they are only a combined 6-5 on the road and have had two closer than expected games against the bottom dwellers of the Horizon League. Valparaiso as I mentioned protects their home court and will do so in this tournament, adding two more solid wins in the process.