One Conference: Horizon League
While all is quiet in (on?) the Horizon tonight, the rest of the weekend features several opportunities for teams in this league to pick up big non-conference wins. The weekend is anchored by the first game on the docket, with Butler hosting Ohio State. So critical is this game for the Bulldogs that many of the pundits are suggesting (and I agree) that a Butler loss would likely force this squad into auto-bid-or-bust mode. If Matt Howard can stay on the floor for 30 minutes, without fouling out, that'd be a nice start.
Elsewhere Saturday, the Loyola Ramblers host San Francisco in a match-up of big city, Jesuit schools. Loyola has been a pleasant surprise thus far in the Horizon League. Picked to finish at, or near, the bottom of the league, the Ramblers have gotten out to a 5-2 start. Wins against Western Michigan and at league-foe Milwaukee signaled to many that Jim Whitesell's bunch shouldn't be taken lightly. It's been a total team-effort thus far, as they cross their fingers that sophomore star-in-the-making, Jordan Hicks, will soon return from injury.
On Sunday the League has a number of interesting "regional" match-ups. Detroit will be looking for an all-important RLU in Ann Arbor when they take on Michigan. Wright State will stay in the state of Ohio, and in MAC play after defeating Toledo earlier this week, when they travel to Miami (Oh.) to take on the Redhawks. And, UIC will stay in Chicago...but play on the road...when they take on DePaul Sunday night.
The big game Sunday features the first team in the HL to knock off a ranked opponent this season...and no, Butler isn't playing on back-to-back nights. The Green Bay Phoenix, fresh off their RLU of Wisconsin, will travel to suburban Detroit to take on Oakland out of the Badlands Conference. The win over Wisky was the first for the Phoenix in 16 attempts, but it didn't come without a casualty. Green Bay's all-everything point guard, Rahmon Fletcher, missed the game's overtime session with a knee injury, and it was revealed Thursday that he has a sprained MCL and will miss a couple weeks. It will be interesting to see how this team responds without having their floor general running the show...especially on the road against Oakland, since the Golden Grizzlies have won 2-of-3 in this series.
Mid-Majority Chat Block, Episode 605--The Mid-Majority
[Comment From Ramblermania!Ramblermania!: ]
Despite the loss at a really solid Green Bay team, Loyola has me believing! Am I being overly optimistic, or can these young Ramblers compete in the Horizon this year?
They're shooting 3's and rebounding, which is a really weird combination but it's working. If the guards can keep nailing them and Andy Polka can keep grabbing the boards, they could grab a 5 or 6 seed in the HL tourney. Why not?
[Comment From John T.John T.: ]
Even the Ivy League has gotten some love as a possible two-bid conference recently (highly unlikely), but what are some conferences that could be? It looks like Butler has almost killed the HL's chance.
Anybody who is seriously talking about a two-bid Ivy is either saying things to get attention, or is drunk. C'mon. Both Harvard and Cornell's average RPI win is below 150. Butler will get some love back if they destroy Xavier and Ohio State, but the two-bid love has to focus back on the west coast. The WCC is in better position to dubl-bid than anyone right now.
[Comment From John T.John T.: ]
On the less positive side of things... Who wins first against a DI opponent UIC or Chicago State? Neither have a gimme coming up the schedule and neither has a DI win yet this season.
My heart says Chicago State, but my brain says UIC. Either way, it might take awhile.
[Comment From Matt (Myrtle Beach)Matt (Myrtle Beach): ]
Damon, What happened to Detroit? A 1 point loss at home to Tennessee St??? Is it just an aberration for a team learning how to win after years of losing? What's the word on Holman's knee? Will he back against Michigan or is it more of a long term injury?
I was asking that same question Wednesday morning. You're right though...it's still a work in progress. Not having Holman for that game did hurt...and those types of situations are ones that this team isn't equipped to deal with quite yet. I haven't heard an update on Holman's knee...but wouldn't suspect it's anything long term.
[Comment From uwgbphoenixphanuwgbphoenixphan: ]
Is the Horizon League a 3 team race? Or does Butler have this thing in the bag?
Right now, as we speak, I'd say the Horizon League is a 3-team race. Now, despite their struggles, I still think Butler is the team to beat...but what Green Bay did earlier this week in beating Wisconsin...was a signal to the rest of the league that they shouldn't be taken lightly. Not surprisingly, Wright State is quietly taking care of business, and have a big one coming up next week at Mississippi State.
If you remember, Green Bay beat Butler last season when they were nationally ranked, and then proceeded to lose their next two games to lesser opponents, so I'm keep a close eye on what they do this weekend at Oakland.
Butler needs to win Saturday against Ohio State. If they don't...they'll likely only have one way of getting back to the NCAA Tournament, and that's winning the HL Tourney.
Checking in on… the Horizon League--Rush The Court
RTC Live: Ohio State @ Butler--Rush The Court
Butler's schedule offers no relief--The Indy Star
Howard says Dawgs remain confident--Indy Star Butler Insider
Butler Hosts #13/15 Ohio State, Former Coach--ButlerSports.com
LIVE BLOG: Men's Basketball vs. #13 Ohio State--ButlerSports.com
Bulldogs Take Win Streak To Cincinnati--ButlerSports.com
Cleveland State guard Anthony Wells trades redshirt for game jersey--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Vikings Travel to Niagara--csuvikings.com
Women's Hoops to Face Morehead State on the Road--detroittitans.com
Titans Ready For Bout With Michigan--detroittitans.com
City Rivals Collide This Sunday As Men's Basketball Faces DePaul--uicflames.com
Loyola to honor best players from its glory days of 1980s--The Chicago Sun-Times
Scouting report: Loyola basketball--Daily Herald
The BIAH Quotables--Ballin' is a Habit
UW-Green Bay had the upset of the week, knocking off newly-minted top 25 Wisconsin. Head coach Tom Kowalczyk used a bit of NCAAlgebra to start off the press conference:
First thing's first. Does that mean we're better than Duke?
Ahh yes, the ole' "If team A beats fifth ranked team B, and team C beats team A, then team C is therefore better than fifth-ranked team B." I love word problems.
Phoenix douse Flames in an impressive victory--UWGB Fourth Estate
Phoenix Men Brace for Tough Test at Oakland Sunday--uwgbathletics.com
Women's basketball: Today's UWGB-Evansville preview--Green Bay Press Gazette
Phoenix set Kress on fire as it upset No. 21 Blue Demons--UWGB Fourth Estate
Phoenix outlast Northern Iowa for 25th consecutive regular season victory--UWGB Fourth Estate
Left Out in the Cold: Despite Final Score, Panthers Battle Marquette Tough (but not Tough Enough)--Milwaukee Panther Tracks
Panthers Host Chicago State Sunday--uwmpanthers.com
Valpo takes on Irish--The Post-Tribune
Scouting today's VU-ND women's basketball game--The NWI Times
Valpo Returns Home, Faces Toledo Saturday Afternoon--valpoathletics.com
VU's men's hoops team takes on Albrecht, Toledo--The NWI Times
Former Crown Point standout Albrecht thriving for Toledo--The NWI Times
Valpo Continues Road Swing Saturday at #3/4 Notre Dame--valpoathletics.com
Raiders limping a little--Dayton Daily News
Women's Basketball Continues Road Swing at Buffalo on Sunday--ysusports.com