10. Valparaiso (20-8, 11-4 Horizon) — #84 KenPom
The tempo-free efficiency statistics might not bear it out, but Valparaiso deserves some credit for its second-place standing in the solid Horizon League and its solid showing in an 80-67 victory against Missouri State over the weekend. The Crusaders have the ultimate in bipolar résumés, having lost to 4-23 Toledo and defeated mid-major royalty Oakland, Butler, Cleveland State and Missouri State.
16. Butler (20-9, 12-5 Horizon) — #55 KenPom
Oh, how the mighty have fallen… and stood back up. The Gordon Hayward-less Bulldogs stumbled to a 4-4 start this season, and at one point sat mired at 6-5 in Horizon League play. Everything looks a bit brighter now that the defending Horizon League champions have pulled off six consecutive victories and are in the thick of the conference title race. Lost in Butler’s struggles has been a wonderful campaign by forward Matt Howard. Plagued by foul trouble last season, Howard has limited his whistles to about four per 40 minutes and dominated to the tune of 1.22 PPP on offense.
21. Cleveland State (23-6, 12-4 Horizon) — #65 KenPom
Eight days after delivering the nation’s best game, a 41-point, 20-rebound, nine-assist extravaganza, Cleveland State guard Norris Cole dropped 35 points on Old Dominion in a losing effort. In short, Cleveland State isn’t a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, so watch the Vikings now. Not only will you see 30-point outbursts and near triple-doubles, you’ll see the greatest flattop this side of Kid ‘n Play.
Tempo-free Horizon League - Race to the Finish--ChicagoNow.com
Stardate 107-20110222: The Stretch Drive--The Mid-Majority
Horizon League: With an 80-67 win over Missouri State, Valparaiso notched one of the more emphatic wins of BracketBusters and one of the most vile victimizations of the Valley. Back in league play on Monday night, the Crusaders were shocked at Green Bay -- one of the only teams to lose to the MVC over the weekend -- in an 81-80 overtime decision. The Phoenix yanked destiny out of Valpo's hands, setting up a thrilling final week of the regular season. The prize: the one-seed and hosting duties for the final two rounds of the tourney. Cleveland State (new/old first place team, one-half game up) and Butler (hottest team with a six-game win streak) are the 12-win clubs, but superiority-in-context has led to a deep tiebreaker matrix, including Milwaukee's sweep over Butler and the Bulldogs' sweep over Cleveland State. All of this sets up what could end up as the game of the year: Thursday night in Cleveland, CSU Vikings and UWM Panthers. We will be there.
Morning Five: 02.23.11 Edition--Rush the Court
Speaking of concerns, Butler’s Brad Stevens has had a lot to worry about this year as his Bulldogs have spent most of the season looking for a post-Final Four identity with returnees Matt Howard, Ronald Nored and Shelvin Mack back in the fold. In keeping with his cool cat persona, though, Stevens said recently that he didn’t “freak out” over Butler’s nine losses, all of which came before February 3. Now, with his team on a six-game winning streak and having pushed itself back onto the NCAA bubble, Stevens believes that his team was always “pretty close” to being good. With one more regular season game and strong opportunity to receive a double-bye in the Horizon League Tourney again (the tiebreaker scenarios are incredibly complicated), the Bulldogs appear almost there.
BracketEliminators: Another weekend of carnage for mid-majors--Sports Illustrated
IN THE MIX
Butler (20-9, 12-5; RPI: 49, SOS: 75)
It appears Butler may try to test my theory that they'll make it by winning out until the Horizon final. Of course, they could just win one more game beyond that and take the doubt out. They'll likely fall a game short of Cleveland State and (maybe) Valpo, but still have the best at-large profile. The tiebreaker situation for the tourney is megaconvoluted, but getting that double-bye would be nice.
GW: Florida State (N), Washington State (N), Cleveland State twice?
BL: Evansville (without Nored), UW Milwaukee (twice), at Wright State, at Youngstown State
Missouri State (21-7, 13-3; RPI: 51, SOS: 130)
The Bears were part of the three-stage Valley TV disaster over the weekend, falling at Valpo and pretty much kissing at-large consideration good bye. They still host Wichita State in the season finale, which very likely will decide the league title, but that's probably not enough with no other solid wins.
GW: at Wichita State
BL: at Tulsa?, at Evansville
Cleveland State (21-6, 12-4; RPI: 35, SOS: 124)
The Vikings still lead the Horizon (by a win over Valpo and one in the loss column over Butler), but this is a profile like a couple of Siena's recent teams: nothing else is helping and the league title isn't enough. They needed to win at Old Dominion on Sunday for any kind of marquee win and couldn't, despite Norris Cole's big day.
BL: at Detroit
Observations from around the nation--ESPN
• I still think that after all of our discussions about an NCAA tournament without Michigan State, Gonzaga and Butler, there will be a tournament with Michigan State, Gonzaga and Butler. North Carolina, Arizona, UConn and UCLA -- which all missed the tourney last season -- will also be in the field.
• Who is hotter than Cleveland State's Norris Cole? He compiled 41 points, 20 boards and nine assists last week against Youngstown, followed that up with another double-double (16 and 10) at Wright State and then scored a BracketBusters-record 35 in a loss at Old Dominion on Sunday.
Tuesday's Shootaround: Elijah Johnson earns his minutes--Ballin' is a Habit
Green Bay 81, Valpo 80 OT: This is an incredibly important result in the Horizon, as it opens the door for Butler to have a shot at getting one of the top two seeds in the Horizon League Tournament.
An attempt at deciphering the top of the Horizon League--Beyond the Arc
10 biggest remaining college hoops games--NBC Sports
Milwaukee at Cleveland State, Thursday
The Horizon is a mess. A number of different scenarios can play out, but this will be the most influential result. Cleveland State is a game in front of Milwaukee, Butler, and Valpo. Assuming all four win out, a Milwaukee win here puts the Panthers and Valpo into the double-bye in the Horizon Tournament. A Cleveland State win gives it to them and Butler.
The Championship Festival Approaches: How Do The Mid-Major Conference Races Stand?--Blogging the Bracket
Conference Tournament: March 1 (higher seeds host), 5-6 (regular season champion hosts), 8 (higher seed)
I've said on numerous occasions that this is one of the most fascinating conference races in the country, and it looks that will continue all the way to the end, with tiebreakers (http://horizonleague.org/2011mbbchampionship) an important piece in determining seeding for the conference tournament. Cleveland State (12-4) leads Butler (12-5) by a half-game and Valparaiso and Milwaukee (both 11-5) by a full game. The top seed hosts the quarterfinals and semifinals, with the top two seeds earning a spot in the last four automatically. Figuring those spots out will be tough, as the Bulldogs have swept the Vikings and split with the Crusaders, but dropped a pair to the Panthers. Cleveland State has one win over Milwaukee (with one still to play) and a split with Valpo, a team that has a 1-1 mark against the Panthers. We'll have a clear picture after Saturday's regular season finales.
Checking up on the bubble--NBC Sports
Butler 79, Illinois-Chicago 52: Believe it or not, the Bulldogs are still on the bubble. This is a long way from what you would call a resume win, but its a win that Butler had to have.
All about the non-Big Six: Temple of pain--Rivals.com
7. Butler (20-9, 12-5) – Don’t be surprised to see the Bulldogs back in the NCAA tournament. (NR)
Butler F Matt Howard Named Academic All American Of Year--SB Nation Indiana
Jazz notes: Utah looking healthier after All-Star break--Salt Lake Tribune
Corbin plans to bring C.J. Miles and Gordon Hayward off the bench, which was ex-coach Jerry Sloan’s preferred rotation.
Jazz players react to Williams trade--Salt Lake Tribune
“It’s kind of crazy. You wake up and I saw D-Will in the training room. He’s laughing with us and everything. Next thing you know, he’s gone.”
Lickliter resists looking back at Iowa tenure--Hawk Central
Butler’s Howard named NCAA Academic All-American of the Year--The Indy Star
Butler's Matt Howard wins national award--The Indy Star
Valpo loss moves Butler closer to bye--Indy Star Butler Insider
Thoughts from a busy weekend--Victory Firelight
Big Picture: The need for The Dance--Victory Firelight
VF Podcast 007: The Return! (With Brandon Gaudin and Nick Gardner)--Victory Firelight
Lynch returns to Butler--Butler Collegian
Howard named nation’s top student-athlete--Butler Collegian
Movin’ on up--Butler Collegian
Matt Howard Named Academic All-American of the Year--ButlerSports.com
Women’s basketball wins final two home games--Butler Collegian
Bulldogs Travel To Milwaukee Thursday--ButlerSports.com
Ten Tuesday Scribbles--Rush The Court
Two Saturday’s ago following a 40-20-9 performance by Cleveland State’s Norris Cole, a remark made by Doug Gottlieb at halftime of one of ESPN’s games made a brief stir around the Twitterverse and interwebs. Gottlieb, someone who knows a little bit about playing point guard at the Division I level, tabbed Cole the best point guard in the country. At first, I viewed that as a total stretch. I’ve seen Cole play a couple of games and one can’t deny his immense talent, but the competition Cole faces on a game-by-game basis is weaker than most. When you dig a little deeper, though, it’s not as ridiculous. Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette play off the ball with enough frequency where one can argue they’re more undersized shooting guards than pure point guards (finding these percentages seems like a job for SI’s Luke Winn in this week’s power rankings). Nolan Smith is a natural 2 but is now relegated to point guard duty following Kyrie Irving’s injury. That leaves the only other true competitor as Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor and, suddenly, Cole holds his own pretty well. The 6’2 CSU playmaker is tenth in the nation in offensive rating for high usage players (28%+ of teams’ possessions) and is the only player in Division I averaging 21/6/6 while shooting 45% FG and 39% 3pt. He’s scored in double digits every single game and just notched 35 points on Sunday against Old Dominion’s stingy defense. Sure, Gottlieb may have been a little anxious with his designation of Cole ahead of Walker, Fredette and/or Smith, but isn’t it closer than you may have expected?
Norris Cole Explains Gregory's Inability to Develop Players--The Blackburn Review
2/27 - College Hoops Week in Review--Ballin' is a Habit
The all they-were-good-too team:
* Bench: Ramone Moore, Temple (24 points in 73-53 win over Richmond); Norris Cole, Cleveland State (16 points, 10 assists, six boards vs. Wright State, 35 points at Old Dominion)
Upsetting week sets stage for some Selection Sunday surprises: National College Basketball Insider--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Horizon conundrum: The Horizon has a small cluster of teams going for the top spot, but likely turning the league into a one-bid outfit in the process. After Sunday's BracketBuster loss at Old Dominion, first-place Cleveland State's lone Top-100 non-conference win is Kent State (97 RPI).
Second-place Valparaiso has a win over Oakland, but also head-scratching losses to Toledo and Ohio. Third-place Milwaukee has an RPI of 107 while fourth-place Butler (49) countered wins over Florida State, Washington State and Stanford with two losses to Milwaukee and another to Youngstown State.
It is still possible the team with the worst RPI (Milwaukee) could be Horizon Tournament's No. 1, while the best (CSU) could be No. 4. Other than the eventual tournament champ, it will be easier for the NCAA committee to say no to all others over trying to choose one.
Cleveland State gets help in Horizon League race as Green Bay nips Valparaiso, 81-80, in overtime--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Cleveland State now in the driver's seat for Horizon League title and host's role in postseason tourney--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Cleveland State basketball team excited for opportunity to win Horizon League championship, coach Gary Waters says (SBTV)--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Cleveland State's star guard Norris Cole is just getting started as senior season winds down--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Basketball Loses on ESPN for Third Time--The Cauldron
Cole Up for Bob Cousy Award--The Cauldron
With Valpo loss, CSU Controls Its Own Destiny Again For No. 1 Seed--Let's Go Vikes!
The Gary Waters Radio Show (Feb. 21)--Let's Go Vikes!
Cleveland.com Video: Interview with CSU's Gary Waters--Let's Go Vikes!
Vikings Control Own Destiny Entering Whirlwind Final Weekend--Let's Go Vikes!
Cleveland State (23-6) vs. Milwaukee (16-12)--VIKINGS BALL
Cole Ties Record With Fifth Men's Basketball Player of the Week Honor--csuvikings.com
Men's Basketball Notes: 2-22-11--csuvikings.com
Vikings Host Milwaukee With League Title On The Line--csuvikings.com
Garland Named Horizon League Player of the Week--csuvikings.com
Last Regular Season Road Trip Has Detroit Heading To Chicago--detroittitans.com
Women's Basketball Returns To Chicago For Final Homestand--uicflames.com
New Women's Basketball Podcast Now Available--uicflames.com
Thumbs Up Thumbs Down--Loyola Phoenix
Up to Courtney Stanley
Though it was a game that probably shouldn't have been close to begin with (UIC was sitting at a 7-20 record overall heading into the game), the junior guard bailed LUC out with an exhilarating, last-second three-pointer to put the men's basketball team up 67-66 as time expired. If I had the room, I would give a thumbs down to UIC Head Coach Howard Moore for letting Stanley get that open and YouTube for inexplicably pulling the video.
Down to men's basketball
All theatrics aside, the team has only won two of its last seven games. Not exactly building momentum for the Horizon League Tournament at the end of the season (see page 21). Coach Whitesell's men are sitting at eighth place, and they would play Wright State in the first round of postseason play if the season ended today. Unfortunately, that same team has beaten LUC by 17 and 13 points in their two match-ups this year.
And this week'sshout-out goes to Rambler Seniors.
I almost used the illustrious shout-out for senior Geoff McCammon for setting the all-time single-season three-point record for Loyola, but then I remembered that there are seven basketball seniors who played their last game on Feb. 19. So thanks to Geoff, Andy, Brittany, Taryn, Terrance, Ryan and Caitlin for everything they've given to the program and our university. It's been a pleasure watching you guys, and we all hope that you end the season with a bang.
Stanley buzzer beater freezes Flames--Loyola Phoenix
Loyola bids adieu to a fab four--Loyola Phoenix
Loyola (Chicago) (15-13) vs. Valparaiso (20-9)--LU WOLF BALL
Ramblers Search For Third Consecutive League Win When They Travel To Valparaiso Thursday--LoyolaRamblers.com
Troubles continue for the Ramblers--Loyola Phoenix
Loyola Opens Key Horizon League Homestand With Wright State--LoyolaRamblers.com
Men's basketball: UWGB seniors say goodbye to Resch Center--Green Bay Press Gazette
Men's basketball: Seniors lead UWGB past Valparaiso in OT--Green Bay Press Gazette
Game 29: UWGB vs. Valpo, live updates--UWGB Basketball
Valparaiso vs Green Bay: Recap Notes--PHOENIX FEVER
Green Bay Tops Valparaiso in Overtime, 81-80--PHOENIX FEVER
Green Bay (13-16) and Youngstown State (9-18) Face Off--PHOENIX FEVER
Phoenix men unable to keep Bulldogs on leash, lose 62-64--The Fourth Estate
Perine Lifts Phoenix to Senior Night Win--uwgbathletics.com
Strong Effort by Green Bay's Non-Seniors Overshadowed by Perine's Heroics--uwgbathletics.com
Green Bay Back on the Road at Youngstown State Thursday Night--uwgbathletics.com
Women's basketball: UWGB sets school record with climb to No. 13--Green Bay Press Gazette
Annual PinkZone Game Activities Set for Saturday--uwgbathletics.com
Phoenix Receives Highest Ranking in Program History--uwgbathletics.com
A Walk Down Memory Lane with the Class of 2011--uwgbathletics.com
Panthers still aim for Horizon title--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Destiny in our hands--PantherU
Horizon League Power Rankings (February 15-21)--PantherU
Some Cleveland State to digest--PantherU
Joke’s on the Gasthaus--PantherU
Coach Jeter on ESPN 540--PantherU
Poll: Should Ryan Allen start?--PantherU
Milwaukee (16-12) Goes Up Against Cleveland State (23-6)--UWM UPDATE
Event Horizon: Milwaukee at Cleveland State--Milwaukee Panther Tracks
Panthers Hit The Road Seeking Top Spot In Horizon--uwmpanthers.com
UWM Starts Final Home Weekend With Butler--uwmpanthers.com
Tonight's College Basketball Picks--Searching for Billy Edelin
Valparaiso @ Green Bay(+1.5):Take Valparaiso- The Crusaders are 11-4 in the top heavy Horizon League, sandwiched in between Cleveland State and Butler. His peers Norris Cole and name-that-Butler-starter get much more press than he does, but Valpo's 6'2'' guard Brandon Wood can fill it up. He averages over 16PPG on 48%FG shooting. He missed the last matchup with Green Bay, a Valparaiso 2-point loss, and will be looking for revenge tonight in the tundra.
Mid-Major Update: Valpo Falls--SB Nation Indiana
Valpo suffers crushing loss to Green Bay--The Post-Tribune
Valparaiso moves up in Coaches Poll--Off The Mark
Horizon League seeding scenarios, revisited--Off The Mark
Valpo falls in overtime at Green Bay--The NWI Times
Valparaiso vs Green Bay: Recap Notes--VALPO DAILY
Valparaiso Stumbles With Overtime Loss To Green Bay, 81-80--VALPO DAILY
On this day 3 years ago - Feb 23, 2008--VALPO DAILY
Valparaiso (20-9) Takes On Loyola (Chicago) (15-13)--VALPO DAILY
Valpo Suffers Heartbreaking Defeat in Green Bay--valpoathletics.com
Crusaders Return Home To Close Out Regular Season--valpoathletics.com
Scouting Valparaiso University women's basketball--The NWI Times
Women's Hoops Begin Final Road Trip Thursday at #17/13 Green Bay--valpoathletics.com
WSU’s Darling possible for Friday's game--Dayton Daily News
Butler could be big draw for 'First Four’ in Dayton--Dayton Daily News
Donlon tours WSU campus with megaphone to raise game attendance--Dayton Daily News
Raiders won’t play in CBI, CIT--Dayton Daily News
Raiders prepared for anyone as Horizon League enters final stretch--Dayton Daily News
Monday surprise makes tightest HL race in 19 years even more unclear--Wright State University Sports
Recovering from broken finger, WSU guard says ‘I’ll be playing’--Wright State University Sports
Duggins never swam at Donlon’s pool, but guard became one of WSU’s greats--Wright State University Sports
‘Hard-working’ seniors a class of their own--The Guardian
Senior Night to Highlight Final Regular-Season Game--wsuraiders.com
Basketball teams have record days over weekend--The Guardian
Raiders women’s basketball coach golden in 1st season--Dayton Daily News
YSU hopes for strong finish--Youngstown Vindicator
Youngstown State (9-18) Battles Green Bay (13-16)--GUIN REPORT
Men’s Basketball Returns to League Action, Welcomes Green Bay Thursday--ysusports.com
Penguins venture to Viking territory--The Jambar
Howard Named Academic All-American of the Year--Horizon League Network
Green Bay's Win Hands Cleveland State Control--Horizon League Network
Green Bay women's basetball receives highest ranking in program history--Horizon League Network