Only One Team Can Be Crowned…Horizon League Champion

2016 Horizon League Basketball Tournament Predictions

I am more into writing feature stories, articles, and columns, rather than making prognostications. But it is tourney time. So let’s have some fun and make some predictions!

Round 1 (Saturday)

Cleveland State (9) vs. Green Bay (4). Expect the Phoenix to get a big lead early and to keep it. Pick: Green Bay by 22.

Northern Kentucky (8) vs. Milwaukee (5).  NKU has lost six in a row, while the Panthers have won three of four. This will be a very close game until the end thanks to the strong play of Norse seniors Jalen Billups and Tyler White. Pick: Milwaukee by 4

Illinois-Chicago (10) vs. Wright State (3).  The Flames have improved the most of any team in the league this season, while the Raiders have overachieved. Somehow, Wright State inexplicably had Valpo’s number in both of their meetings. But the more athletic team will win this game. Pick: UIC by 6

Youngstown State (7) vs. Detroit Mercy (6).  Both of these teams have not quite lived up to expectations this season. Losing center Bobby Hain was something the Penguins were not anticipating. They recovered well at times, and found a budding star in Cameron Morse. But even a big game from him won’t be enough to outscore the offensive-minded Titans. Pick: UDM by 9

Round 2 (Sunday)

Milwaukee (5) vs. Green Bay (4). This battle for Wisconsin essentially decides who the best team in the Badger State is. These two teams split their two games this year, which were decided by a whopping combined three points. The Panthers have lost a lot of close games this season. But they will find a way to win this one. Pick: Milwaukee by 3

Illinois-Chicago (10) vs. Detroit Mercy (6).  The Titans have much more experience and depth than the Flames. The Flames will not be able to stop Titan sharp-shooters Anton Wilson and Chris Jenkins on the perimeter. Pick: Titans by 10

Semis (Monday)

Milwaukee (5) vs. Valparaiso (1). Only time will tell whether the Crusaders are a team of destiny in the NCAA Tournament. For now, they will be well-rested enough to outlast the Panthers in a physical and lower-scoring game. Pick: Valpo by 11

(6) Detroit Mercy vs. Oakland (2). Joe Louis Arena will be jumping for this match-up. Oakland won both regular season meetings, but they did not dominate by any means. For a game like this with so much on the line, I have to look at intangibles. Oakland plays with an ardent personality on the court, while that type of outward passion has not been as evident from the Titans. If the Titans want to pull off the upset, they need to play with the type of passion and emotion that Ray McCallum Jr. played with when he led the team to the NCAA Tournament in 2012. Pick: Oakland by 4

Championship

Oakland (2) vs. Valparaiso (1). On the surface, it may seem that this game means more to the Golden Grizzlies because Valpo is soundly in the NCAA Tourney whether they win or lose. Regardless of the Big Dance, the honor to be called Horizon League Tournament Champion is not something to be taken lightly. Expect this to be one of the more memorable championship games in recent years. Pick: Valpo by 5

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5 Responses to Only One Team Can Be Crowned…Horizon League Champion

  1. Don Seeko says:

    Great write-up Tim. Interesting as I glance at the awards, UIC is mentioned quite a few times for being seeded 10th, almost as many times as Valpo. Where is Wright State? That is why I think Coach Donlon probably was very much considered for Coach of the Year because they don’t have the so-called star talent, but many times exceed expectations as a team.

    As for your predictions, I pretty much agree with a few minor differences. I think the CSU – GB game will be a closer game than the 22 points you have. CSU will be pulling out all the stops and if they are lucky they will score, and GB sometimes doesn’t look like they are in sync.

    I think you have underestimated Milwaukee a bit. I am suspecting a 10-12 point win by the Panthers.

    The big surprise to me is that you picked UIC over WSU. Looks like you are buying into the individual player post season awards over WSU’s defense. I will admit that WSU since losing to UDM, they seem to be in a small slump even with their wins.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tim says:

      Thanks Don. UIC hardly has any depth on their bench, as I think they are being carried by a couple very good players. Whenever making picks on college basketball brackets, I am always tempted to pick a big upset or two. Even though Wright State is very good defensively, I feel they have won a lot of close games and are vulnerable, as they did not finish the season that strong.

      I think WSU did not show up as much on the list because they are a team of a bunch of solid role players, but no one really stands out in a major way. There is nothing wrong with that at all, as a lot of teams win that way. For Valpo, besides Peters, they are pretty balanced offensively. But that is what makes Valpo so dangerous because one day Hammink and D. Walker can have big scoring nights, and another night it could be T. Walker and Carter. They are just so deep and they don’t seem to care who gets the points.

      I agree that Milwaukee is dangerous. But like any of the teams 3-10, one wonders how much they have left in the tank by the time they would make it to the semis, with that being their third game in as many days.

      Like

  2. Don Seeko says:

    After consulting with Bookies in Vegas, and International Game Observers in Canada and Poland, I offer my Picks based on all that data. for Round One:

    Cleveland State over Green Bay
    Milwaukee over Northern Kentucky
    UIC over Wright State
    Youngstown State – Detroit Mercy – Too Close to Call, Pick-em Designation. (Could be the last game for either Coach with a loss)

    Like

  3. Tim says:

    Hey Don. I like those picks. I just can’t see the CSU one though, especially after you said you heard that the Vikings practically quit in that one game. Look for YSU’s Kaufman and Umede to be big X-factor’s in that game. If they can rebound the ball and maintain a steady presence down low on both ends of the court, then YSU will definitely have a chance. Yeah, it is surprising that Slocum has lasted so long as YSU is always in the lower to middle part of the league.

    I see I may have swayed you a bit with that UIC pick. If we’re both right, then Raider Doug won’t be happy!

    Like

  4. If the game in question is one in which both teams are in the same league, then that league’s protest rules and decisions control.

    Like

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