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.