John Templon of Chicago College Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Horizon League.
Predicted Order of Finish:
- Butler (17-1)
- Wright State (14-4)
- Milwaukee (12-6)
- Cleveland State (11-7)
- Green Bay (10-8)
- Loyola (8-10)
- Valparaiso (7-11)
- Detroit (5-13)
- Youngstown State (4-14)
- UIC (2-16)
- Vaughn Duggins (G), Wright State – 13.8 ppg, 2.7 apg in 2008-09 season.
- Troy Cotton (G), Green Bay – 12.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg
- Norris Cole (G), Cleveland State – 13.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg
- Gordon Hayward (F), Butler – 13.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg
- Matt Howard (F/C), Butler – 14.8, 6.8 rpg (last season’s Horizon League Player of the Year)
6th Man. Jordan Hicks (G/F), Loyola-Chicago
Impact Newcomer. Milos Milosevic (F), Valparaiso. The 6’7″ Croatian junior college transfer should give the Crusaders a paint presence.
What You Need to Know.
There’s more to the Horizon League than just Butler. Whether it’s Cleveland State – which upset Syracuse and Wake Forest last season – or Green Bay and Milwaukee, the Horizon League has quality teams throughout. Someone in the top half of the league is going to rise up and not only challenge the Bulldogs, but compete for an NCAA at-large berth.
This is only the beginning for the Bulldogs. Butler is going to be good for a long time. Young talent like Gordon Hayward (soph.), Matt Howard (jr.), Shelvin Mack (soph.) and incoming center recruit Andrew Smith mean the Bulldogs will be strong for many seasons to come, not just 2009-10.
UIC was expected to be a pretty good team in 2009-10, even with the losses of Josh Mayo and Scott VanderMeer, but the team was gutted when two frontcourt starters – Rob Eppinger and Tori Boyd – decided not to return along with the indefinite suspension of guard Spencer Stewart. Now the roster seems to contain more questions than answers. The Flames will rely heavily on guard Robo Kreps.
Is he healthy again? That’s the question Wright State fans are asking about guard Vaughn Duggins. He missed all but four games with finger and ankle injuries and his return will be a key for the Raiders. Duggins averaged 13.3 points per game two seasons ago.
They start real early. The Horizon League is one of the few conferences that plays league games in early December. December 3rd and 5th feature full slates of league games before it goes back to it’s non-conference business.
Predicted Champion. Butler (NCAA Seed #5). The Bulldogs start the season ranked in the Top 20 and are a great collection of talent. Last season was supposed to be a rebuilding season, but it didn’t end until the first round of the NCAA Tournament in a heartbreaker to LSU. This season the non-conference schedule is even tougher and the Bulldogs will be trying to advance even farther.