The Horizon League Tournament’s opening round begins with a plethora of games. The notables playing tomorrow are the Green Bay Phoenix, Milwaukee Panthers and Wright St. Raiders. The Panthers claim to fame this season is their surprising win at the Wisconsin Badgers. A win that I believe was a product of timing, given how bad the Badgers were during their non-conference schedule. As for the Phoenix, they finished the season with rare five game homestand, winning four of the games. The only loss was a two point defeat to the Horizon League leader Valparaiso Crusaders. The same Crusaders who’s apparent kryptonite, was the Raiders who swept them. Those two defeats account for the Crusaders only blemishes in conference. On a side note and not that it really matters, but the Northern Kentucky Norse are ineligible for the NCAA Tournament. Anyways, the Horizon League Tournament schedule is as follows…
Opening Round: March 5 (ESPN3)
Game 1: No. 9 Cleveland State Vikings vs. No. 4 Green Bay Phoenix
Game 2: No. 8 Northern Kentucky Norse vs. No. 5 Milwaukee Panthers
Game 3: No. 10 UIC Flames vs. No. 3 Wright State Raiders
Game 4: No. 7 Youngstown State Penguins vs. No. 6 Detroit Titans
Quarterfinals: March 6 (ESPN3)
Game 5: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4
Semifinals: March 7 (ESPNU)
Game 7: Winner Game 5 vs. No. 1 Valparaiso Crusaders
Game 8: Winner Game 6 vs. No. 2 Oakland Golden Grizzlies
Championship: March 8 (ESPN)
Game 9: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 7 p.m.
Prediction: I’m torn because I’m rooting for Kay Felder and the Oakland Grizzlies, but I believe that the Valparaiso Crusaders are better suited to represent in the NCAA Tournament. I want Felder to get more recognition for how talented he is, but I realize that the Grizzlies are a high powered offense and that’s it. They don’t play a lick of defense and that’s a concern to me. Valparaiso on the other hand, has an offense that holds it own and an elite defense. They are a tall and experience team, that shoots extremely well from the free throw line. All those things formulate into a team that you can picture the slipper fitting on in the NCAA Tournament. So, I got the Crusaders taking the cake and representing the Horizon League.