Checking In On… the Horizon League

Posted by jstevrtc on December 5th, 2009


John Templon of Chicago College Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Horizon League.

Standings (conference/overall):

  1. Green Bay  1-0 (7-2)
  2. Milwaukee  1-0 (6-2)
  3. Detroit  1-0 (5-2)
  4. Wright State  1-0 (4-2)
  5. Butler  0-0 (5-2)
  6. Valparaiso  0-0 (3-4)
  7. Loyola-Chicago  0-1 (4-2)
  8. Cleveland State  0-1 (4-4)
  9. Youngstown State  0-1 (3-4)
  10. UIC  0-1 (1-4)

Top Storylines:

The Horizon League opens play. The Detroit Titans (82-71 victors over Youngstown State) and Green Bay (88-69 victors over Loyola-Chicago) were the two most impressive winners during an opening four-game slate on Thursday. Five more league games are on tap for Saturday. That’s what happens when you need to play an 18 game home-and-home schedule.

Butler struggles against major conference squads. The Bulldogs lost to Clemson and Minnesota at the 76 Classic in Anaheim.  Butler rebounded to crush Ball State 59-38 on Wednesday.  Still, the Bulldogs have shown some weaknesses during non-conference play.  The tough games aren’t over yet.  Butler must play Georgetown this week and Ohio State on December 12th.

Wright State rising up. The Raiders are looking like the best competition for Butler during league play.  Brad Brownell’s team missed out on an upset of Washington and lost at Northeastern, but Wright State did beat Portland State and is ranked 50th in the Pomeroy rankings.

Team Breakdowns:

Butler — Last season’s Horizon League Player of the Year Matt Howard has yet to get into a rhythm for the Bulldogs. Thankfully for Butler, his teammates Shelvin Mack (15.7 PPG) and Gordon Hayward (15.0 PPG, 8.9 RPG) are both playing well.  The Jimmy V Classic’s marquee game is Butler versus Georgetown, a game the Bulldogs have to win to maintain their national ranking

DetroitThomas Kennedy and the Titans gave DePaul everything the Blue Demons could handle, but Detroit came up just short in double overtime, 68-66.  Kennedy followed up his 17 point effort against DePaul with 19 points in the Titans’ victory over Youngstown State.  His emergence gives the Titans a fourth scoring option along with Eli Holman (14.5 PPG, 10.3 RPG), Chase Simon and Xavier Keeling.

Loyola — The Ramblers crashed back to earth with a tough road game against Green Bay on Thursday.  Loyola had won four games in a row before a 21-point loss against the Phoenix.  The Ramblers have been led by their bench; neither Walt Gibler nor Marcus Thomas start, but they are Loyola’s two highest scorers.

Wright State — The return of Vaughn Duggins has given the Raiders another scoring option along with Todd Brown. The Raiders look like the biggest challenger to Butler’s supremacy in the conference.  Wright State still has a chance to get a key non-conference victory against Mississippi State.

Green Bay — The Phoenix are tearing it up on offense, the common denominator amongst the top three teams in the conference currently.  Green Bay enjoyed a productive trip to North Dakota getting road victories over North Dakota State and, well, North Dakota.

Milwaukee — The Panthers keep winning games and thus sit right behind their rivals in the conference standings.  The games have been close.  Milwaukee has tight victories over Colgate, Bowling Green and UIC.  Milwaukee trailed at halftime against the Flames, but still pulled out the victory.  The Panthers take on their cross-town rival Marquette on Tuesday.

Youngstown State —  The Penguins opened their conference season with a loss at Detroit.  The game was the second game of a difficult five-game road trip.  The Penguins are led by a trio of guards; junior Vytas Sulskis is backed up by seniors DeAndre Mays and Kelvin Bright.

Cleveland State —  Norris Cole needs some help in Cleveland.  The Vikings are mired in a four-game slide and while Cole scored 18 points in the conference opener against Wright State, he didn’t get much more from his teammates.  The junior guard has raised his scoring average from 13.3 PPG to 15.9 PPG, but will it be enough?

UIC — The Flames seem to be finding an identity as a stalwart defensive team that just tries to score enough points to pull out close victories.  The strategy hasn’t worked yet against a Division I team, but close losses to Illinois State and in the conference opener against Milwaukee are reasons for hope.  All of Robo Kreps’ shooting averages are down as he tries to carry the Flames offense.

Valparaiso — The Crusaders are currently the lowest-rated team in the Horizon League at 283rd in the Pomeroy rankings.  Valparaiso is ranked dead last in the nation in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.  Sophomore guard Brandon Wood is tearing it up with 23.0 PPG, but if the Crusaders can’t stop anyone, it won’t matter.

jstevrtc (547 Posts)

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