Upsets Abound in Wild Thursday Night

Three upsets occurred in a surprising night of H-League play. The only team that was able to avoid the upset bug was the team one would most expect to, Valparaiso. The Crusaders held off a surprisingly solid Northern Kentucky team 64-52.  Zero Norse reached double-figures in scoring, which is just more proof that Valpo has one of the toughest defenses in the nation. Valpo improves to 11-1 in H-League play, and continues to inch closer to cracking the national top-25 polls. The Crusaders played far from a perfect game. But they attempted 11 more field goals than the Norse and made 5 more, which was essentially the difference in the game.

Upset #1 was the mildest of the night, but was still big for both teams as visiting Green Bay outlasted Detroit Mercy 86-85. This is yet another close loss for the Titans, who have lost 6 of their 7 league games by 8 points or less. About 30 miles north of Detroit, upset #2 occurred as Milwaukee was in control for most of the game beating Oakland 93-85. The Panthers shot a smoking 50.8% from the field and 90% from the free throw line. Seniors Matt Tiby and J.J. Panoske each had double-doubles. So much for Oakland having a great homecourt advantage! Last season, the Golden Grizzlies were 8-0 at the O’rena in H-League play. This season, they are just 3-4 at home in league play. Upset #3 took place in Chicago as the UIC Flames beat Wright State 64-59. Dikembe Dixson continues his stellar play, making a strong case for an All-Horizon League First Team honor, despite this just being UIC’s second league win.

But what do these upsets mean for the standings?  First, Valpo’s stranglehold on the outright regular season crown is tighter than ever, as they gained a full-game on both second place teams. Second, both Wisconsin teams improved to 7-5 in league play and are within 1.5 games of a second place tie. Third, Oakland and Wright State lost major opportunities to take over sole possession of second place, as they both are now 9-4 in H-League play. Fourth, although not mathematically out of a shot at second place, Detroit Mercy has too many teams to jump over as they sit alone in 6th Place with a 6-7 record.

All 10 teams are in action on Saturday. Green Bay at Oakland is the biggest game of the day, as an Oakland win will likely have them sitting alone in second place. That is because Wright State travels to Valparaiso, as the Crusaders will almost definitely avenge their only H-League loss of the season.  Milwaukee at Detroit Mercy is also big for positioning in the standings and because the first game between the two teams got a bit heated in the end.

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8 Responses to Upsets Abound in Wild Thursday Night

  1. Don Seeko says:

    Tim- Good report.

    Maybe the Raiders have run out of gas with that loss to the basement feeder UIC. As we have said in the past, they are the surprise team this year and surprised don’t last forever. As you indicated, Valpo should beat WSU on Saturday, so WSU needs to depend on some other teams on Saturday in order to make the OU at WSU game meaningful for 2nd Place. By the way, that game is national on ESPNU.

    You mentioned all the Titan close losses. As the ole adage says, many times when a team loses so closely, so consistently, it comes down to coaching. Looking at the boxscore, they are almost identical between GB and UDM except for one glaring number. GB took 14 more FG Attempts than UDM.

    As I have watched Felder at OU this season, I noticed something last nite in their loss to Milwaukee. Felder is a terrific player with terrific talent and smarts. He continues to get weekly recognition nationally and locally. I think that he is either trying to impress people too much or may be thinking too much now. I mean he is trying to not only play but coach on the floor as well and I think this may be hurting OU.

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  2. Tim says:

    Thanks Don. Yeah, that is cool that ESPNU picked up that game at Wright State. The gap between Valpo and whoever that second place team is just continues to increase. The close losses for the Titans have definitely been a little tough for them. One would figure that just based on probability they would pull more of those games out. Along with coaching, their free throw shooting down the stretch always seems to let them down. I think you’re on to something with Felder. He is trying to do too much. I understand being an assertive player, but even some of the best need to just let the game come to them sometimes.

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  3. Doug Miller says:

    Waited to reply until after the late game at Valparaiso. By now we know that Wright State rebounded to beat Valpo on their home court with a late charge, outscored the Crusaders 8-0 in the last 1:20 of the game and won on a tip at the one second mark. A forced turn over, stop and offensive charge held Valpo scoreless while we hit two threes before the tip in just before the buzzer. Valpo has beaten every team in the league this season by double digits, EXCEPT for The Wright State Raiders who won by 11 at home and are the first team in two full seasons to beat Valpo on their home court. Can’t savor this for very long, bus ride back home, then focus on Oakland for a Monday afternoon 5PM game on ESPNU. Glad it is at the NUTT HOUSE and need to find a way to neutralize Kay Felder. Hope for a good turnout like those 10,000 crowds against Butler. Despite what Don Seeko said earlier, maybe the Raiders have not run out of gas yet. Raider Doug (Class of 1975)

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    • Tim says:

      Great win for your squad Raider Doug. If your team can get by Oakland, that should essentially clinch second place as they have three very winnable games to finish the season. Even if Oakland wins, I could see the Golden Grizzlies losing two of their last three (Valpo and UDM). Should be a great atmosphere for that late afternoon President’s Day game on the U. I did not realize the capacity of the Nutter Center was so high. I’m sure that place will be jumping on Monday. It is something how the Raiders are able to do so well, despite playing at a more deliberate pace than many other H-League teams who like to run and gun. They beat Valpo today and only attempted 45 field goals. Oakland attempted nearly 70 field goals today. What’s gonna give? We’ll just have to wait until Monday to see!

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  4. Don Seeko says:

    Sometimes a team has another team’s number and that is really how you can describe WSUs sweep of Valpo this season, it defies any real explanation. Based on comments this morning from around the league, they are very upset with the Raiders for beating Valpo. Valpo was the only chance to get an at-large bid. I suspect every team now will be after Wright State. WSU lost to OU by 26 points a few weeks ago and OU is averaging 104 points in their last two games. WSU Defense or High Scoring OU? How will the refs call the game tomorrow?

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  5. Tim says:

    I still think Valpo is in line for an at-large bid. Earlier in the conference season, I said they needed to finish at least 15-3 in league play and they should get that at-large bid. Plus, I think the Horizon League is finally getting just credit as one of the nation’s better mid-major conferences. Plus, the eye test should mean something to who selects the tourney, and Valpo looks better than a lot of the middle of the road Power Conference schools.
    Oakland has been looking good lately. I think the refs will let them play more, which should play into OU’s favor. The question is which Wright State team shows up? They seem to be very hard to predict. Will it be the team that has beaten Valpo twice? Or will it be the team that loses to UIC and Cal State Northridge?

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  6. Don Seeko says:

    Well, WSU kept it close for the first 10 minutes, then OU took control for the game. I think the refs called the game well. I haven’t seen the boxscore yet, but at halftime the stats looked even based on the ones they showed on the tv screen. OU must have taken a lot more shots. Now, will it be Milwaukee or Green Bay giving OU a run for 2nd Place?

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    • Tim says:

      They really had a great officiating crew. I recognized all three officials, and one of them was the one who threw Calipari out of the game on Saturday. Big wins for Oakland and Green Bay today. But don’t count the Raiders out just yet as they have three very winnable games…

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