Checking in on… the Horizon LeaguePosted by jstevrtc on December 18th, 2009
John Templon of Chicago College Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Horizon League.
- Green Bay 2-0 (9-3)
- Wright State 1-0 (6-4)
- Detroit 2-0 (6-4)
- Butler 1-0 (7-3)
- Loyola-Chicago 1-1 (7-2)
- Milwaukee 1-1 (7-4)
- Valparaiso 0-1 (4-6)
- Youngstown State 0-2 (4-5)
- Cleveland State 0-2 (4-7)
- UIC 0-2 (2-6)
- Big Stars Missing Big Time: Two of the top teams in the Horizon League, Green Bay and Detroit, were hampered by the loss of star players. Rahmon Fletcher hasn’t played for the Phoenix since injuring himself against Wisconsin on December 9 and Eli Holman missed three games for the Titans between November 28 and December 13.
- A Different Point of View: Basketball State has a different way of seeing the Horizon League. It thinks Butler is #1, but has surprising Loyola at #4 and 0-2 Youngstown State at #5. Both are in front of Detroit, which is 2-0 in the league.
- Rise of Chicago: The two Chicago programs in the Horizon League, UIC and Loyola, have been down for a while now, but the Ramblers are off to a 7-2 start. A win at Bradley really cemented their status as a darkhorse in the conference. UIC might be struggling, but the Flames rose up to defeat Pac-10 foe Oregon State on Wednesday at home.
- Very busy Saturday: Saturday, December 19 is one of the busiest days of the season for the Horizon League as nine of the 10 teams will be in action. The only team not playing is Loyola (Ill). Big games include Xavier at Butler, West Virginia at Cleveland State, and Youngstown State at Green Bay in a conference tilt.
- More Places to See the Horizon: The Horizon League is one of the best mid-major conferences out there in getting its games out to the world for free. If you live in Indianapolis, Youngstown, Cleveland, Wisconsin, Dayton or Chicago you can now get even more Horizon League games on television with the Horizon League Network’s Game of the Week. This is another great development for the league to complement HLN’s excellent online broadcasts.
- Butler — The Bulldogs got the win they had to have over Ohio State at home last Saturday. Now comes another weekend test on national television as they take on Xavier on ESPN2 at 11 a.m. There was a time when the UAB game on Tuesday might’ve been an easy game, but not this season. The Blazers are 9-1 and just beat Cincinnati. UAB already took out Green Bay in its first game of the season.
- Detroit — Holman’s return against Michigan was nice. Otherwise it was a light week for the Titans. They hung tough for a while against the Wolverines but eventually lost, 75-64. Two MAC schools come to Detroit this week as the Titans take on Bowling Green and Central Michigan.
- Loyola — The Ramblers are for real. Or at least that’s what fans are beginning to think after Courtney Stanley’s buzzer beater against Bradley on Wednesday. The incredible half-court shot by Stanley gave Loyola a 68-65 victory over the toughest team remaining on their non-conference schedule. The Ramblers have to avoid giving all back this week when they play at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and host Albany on Tuesday.
- Wright State — It was a tough week on the road for the Raiders as they lost a heartbreaker to Miami (OH) on Sunday and then followed it up with an 11-point loss to Mississippi State on Wednesday. With home games against Maryland-Eastern Shore and Arkansas-Little Rock on the slate for this week things are going to be much easier, to say the least.
- Green Bay — The euphoria over the Phoenix victory over Wisconsin didn’t last long as Green Bay got a tough dose of reality while playing without Fletcher at Oakland. The Grizzlies blew out Green Bay, 76-52. It is possible that Fletcher could return for the important conference game against Youngstown State, but no matter what, the Phoenix are notoriously tough to beat at home.
- Milwaukee — Ricky Franklin led the team in both points and rebounds as the Panthers defeated North Dakota State in their only game of the week. Milwaukee then took a week off for exams and heads back to work for the continuation of Miami (OH)’s Horizon League series. The Panthers take on a Wisconsin team already familiar to Horizon League fans on Wednesday in Madison.
- Youngstown State — Youngstown State has a big game against Green Bay on Saturday in conference. Then High Point comes to town, and since the team is ranked 311th in the Basketball State rankings they shouldn’t be too worrisome for the Penguins. I’m not nearly as bullish as some people are about Youngstown State, as they really haven’t proven anything against good competition yet this season.
- Cleveland State — The Vikings hung 113 points on NAIA Wilberforce and then lost at home to Robert Morris by 8 points. Cleveland State has three very difficult non-conference games remaining and while Gary Waters should be commended for taking on the challenge of West Virginia and road games at Ohio State and Kansas State he might’ve overscheduled a bit. The Vikings haven’t found any continuity yet and besides Norris Cole nobody has consistently put the ball in the basket. Cleveland State has zero seniors, so this might be a one-year blip.
- Valparaiso — An easy win at home against Toledo will beget more easy games against Concordia (Wisc.) and at IUPU-Fort Wayne over the next few games for the Crusaders. Valparaiso is near the bottom of the Horizon League so no game should be taken lightly.
- UIC – The return of Spencer Stewart has energized the Flames and made them into a better team. While the game against Oregon State wasn’t pretty, the result — thanks to Robo Kreps‘ lay-up with 5.3 seconds remaining and two stolen inbounds passes — was. UIC tries to continue the momentum this weekend when it takes on Northern Illinois, a game many people thought might be the Flames first Division I win of the season. With that monkey already off their back, UIC can just concentrate on improving. The Flames also head to Akron on Tuesday this week.