Friday, March 7, 2014

News On The Horizon 3/7/2014

Conference Tournament Primer: Horizon League--Rush The Court
O26 Storylines: Harvard, the SWAC’s Strange Setup, Watch Green Bay, and Bid Thieves…--Rush The Court
Can we please see Green Bay in the NCAA Tournament?

Green Bay gets a double-bye into the semifinals of this week’s Horizon League Tournament, as the Phoenix are the runaway favorite to earn the conference’s NCAA Tournament bid. Let’s hope they come through. Green Bay beat Virginia earlier this season and is a legitimate threat to make a run to the Sweet Sixteen. They have a 5’11″ point guard named Keifer Sykes who throws down sick alley-oop dunks, and they have a 7’1″ center (Alec Brown) who shoots three-pointers like they’re layups. The pair averages 20.4 and 15.8 PPG, respectively, and will scare the living daylights out of the big boys. Second-seeded Cleveland State could pose a challenge this weekend, but Green Bay’s dynamic duo should be enough see them through. America is in for a real treat with this team.

Are there any potential bid stealers in the first week of conference tournaments?

While there are a number of O26 teams that could become the next March Cinderella, in a change from years past, I’m not so sure any of those teams can fall back on an at-large bid should they not earn their league’s automatic berth. Green Bay is a long shot, and that’s about it. At least for this week. There just aren’t many opportunities for bid thieves to shrink the at-large pool this season. Anybody other than Wichita State winning the MVC Tournament would certainly create that scenario, but the league is just so weak this year. Indiana State could conceivably topple the Shockers in the championship game, but I really don’t see that happening. The Sycamores could compete for the title in a regular MVC season filled with good teams across the board, but they just are up against a Wichita State team that’s a class above the rest. Any team other than Gonzaga or BYU winning the WCC Tournament would shrink the at-large pool as well, but after seeing Saint Mary’s get drilled at home by Gonzaga last week, the league’s best bet for an outsider winning the tournament doesn’t look like much of a threat. Bubble teams around the country should be able to rest easy this week.
O26 Superlatives, Part I: AmEast, ASun, Big South, Horizon, MAAC, NEC, OVC & Patriot…--Rush The Court
Horizon League

Team of the Year – Green Bay (24-5, 14-2). The Phoenix beat Virginia (currently ranked fifth in the latest AP poll) back in December before rolling to a 14-2 conference record and a Horizon League championship. They have the league’s best one-two punch in Keifer Sykes and Alec Brown and look like one of the best mid-majors in college basketball.
Player of the Year – Keifer Sykes – Green Bay. The junior is lightning-quick, incredibly explosive and among the best point guards in the nation. Sykes averaged 20.4 points, 5.0 assists and 4.4 rebounds this season, helped by the combined 79 points he put up against top-tier opponents Wisconsin, Harvard and Virginia.
Coach of the Year – Brian Wardle – Green Bay. Wardle overcame some offseason controversy to lead his group one of the greatest seasons in program history.
Upset of the Year – Green Bay over Virginia, 75-72. The Phoenix smacked the Cavaliers in the mouth early in the second half and never relented, even when the visitors made a late charge. Few teams, regardless of league, notched a more impressive non-conference win. But props to Tony Bennett for playing his alma mater on the road — that’s pretty cool.
Dunk (or Dunker) of the Year – Keifer Sykes – Green Bay. There are actually some really good dunkers in this league – Wright State’s Jerran Young destroyed Alec Brown earlier in the season – but Sykes takes the cake. His jam against UIC might be the best we’ve seen all season.
Horizon League Conference Tournament preview: Can Green Bay finish off its great season?--CollegeBasketballTalk
March Madness has arrived (VIDEOS)--CollegeBasketballTalk
Picking conference awards winners, this year's FGCU and more mailbag--Sports Illustrated
Benny Ship (@benny_ship1): Who are some teams that could be this year's FGCU?

Herewith, my top five:
3. Green Bay. Won the Horizon League regular season by two games and beat Virginia at home in December.
One Bid League Tournament Preview Explosion--Run The Floor
HORIZON - Bracket

Start: March 4

Venue: Higher seeds, quarter and semis at Green Bay, finals at highest seed

1 Seed: Green Bay

2 Seed: Cleveland State

Top Offense: 1.12 - Cleveland State

Top Defense: 0.95 - Wright State

Top Scorer: 21.1 Keifer Sykes, Green Bay

Top Rebounder: 8.5 - Anton Grady, Cleveland State

Top Passer: 7.3 - Kahlil Felder, Oakland

Prediction: Green Bay

Dark Horse: Valparaiso
Oakland's must-see inbound play does in Youngstown State--Fox Sports Ohio
Starting Five: Bid thieves that could shake up the field--USA Today
Based on USA TODAY Sports' latest bracketology projections, there are 11 spots open for borderline teams. That's a number sure to shrink with conference-tournament upsets that shake up the projected field of 68. Here's a look at some teams that likely wouldn't reach the NCAA tournament as an at-large bid but have the potential to win their respective conference tournaments:
Wright State: The Raiders (18-13, 10-6) were projected to finish near the top of the Horizon League, but Green Bay took home the regular-season title. Because the Phoenix have good enough credentials to be one of the few mid-major teams to earn an at-large bid should they not win the Horizon tournament, that means another team winning the conference's automatic bid could make the Horizon League a two-bid conference and, of course, bump a bubble team out of the field. Wright State brought back all five starters from last year's team and appears to be getting hot at the right time.
Horizon League tournament: Preview, prediction, TV info--Eye On College Basketball
Night Court: Syracuse loses for the fourth time in five games--Eye On College Basketball
Players with impact
Travis Bader of Oakland is known for his shooting, and he hit seven 3-pointers on Tuesday night, while also going 18-for-18 from the free-throw line. Bader finished with 39 points.
Youngstown State's Kendrick Perry saw his career likely come to a close on Tuesday night, but he went out with a bang: 35 points, seven assists.
Horizon League
Horizon League Awards: Green Bay Takes Home the Hardware--Mid-Major Madness
2014 Horizon League Tournament Schedule--Mid-Major Madness
I Slept On It: Syracuse Falls Again; Many Bubble Teams Win--Blogging the Bracket
Horizon League First Round

All three home teams won, though Oakland (13-19, 8-9) needed overtime to defeat Youngstown State. The Golden Grizzlies will take on Wright State in Friday's quarterfinals. Valparaiso (18-14, 10-7) and Milwaukee (18-13, 8-9) will be the other matchup on Friday.
College basketball roundup: Oakland rallies, Detroit Mercy falls in Horizon League tournament--The Detroit Free Press

Here's what Udonis Haslem said to Pat Beverley at halftime, and other stuff about the Rockets' excitable guard--Heat Check
Mr. Chaos provided the Rockets with an overwhelming perimeter presence and helped limit Heat guards Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole to a combined 3 of 12 from the field. Beverley was especially relentless against Cole, who the Heat drafted in 2011 after apparently realizing the error of its ways in getting rid of Beverley for ... what ... exactly ... Eddie House? Something tells me Beverley would have matched up pretty well against one José Juan Barea in the 2011 NBA Finals, but let's not go there tonight.

So, Beverley was jawing with the Heat's players pretty much every second he was on the court, which was exactly 1,972 seconds. At one point, it appeared like Heat coach Erik Spoelstra subbed Cole out of the game so Cole wouldn't completely lose his mind and do something stupid. Cole might be the most level-headed player in the NBA, by the way.
Winderman's view: Spurs 111, Heat 87--South Florida Sun Sentinel
-- And Norris Cole hasn't picked up the slack.
Cleveland State is tournament ready; Akron, Kent State getting there - local college hoops this week--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Brand names Ohio State and Kentucky ousted - Elton Alexander's Top 25 poll vote--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Let the sun shine on the likes of Harvard and Green Bay this week. The Ivy entry can be the first team to lock up a NCAA Tournament bid if it can get past Yale this Friday, so look for that. And Green Bay starts Horizon League Tournament play, advancing directly to the HL semifinals, Saturday, on its home court.
My Top Five in the state:
1. Cincinnati 24-5
2. Xavier 20-9
3. Ohio State 22-8
4. Cleveland State 21-10
5. Toledo 24-5
Waiting in line: Dayton.

CSU's Vikings took care of business last week with a pair of big victories and are the one local team with a solid shot at making the NCAA Tournament field, out of the Horizon League. Dayton (20-9) has been solid all season, and could crack the elite soon, particularly if the likes of OSU continue to struggle.
Cleveland State's Jon Harris is top Sixth Man in the Horizon League--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Terry Pluto likes how Cleveland State finishes fast to be in strong position for postseason--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Men's basketball finish regular season strong--The Cauldron
Forbes & Harris Earn All-League
CSU Hoops Luncheon Scheduled on

Vikings Travel To Youngstown State For Regular Season

Kings just go with the flow in win over Milwaukee--Sacramento Bee
The bench also did its part, with rookie Ray McCallum getting a season-high 15 points and Reggie Evans scoring 13.
Detroit Takes Loss against Milwaukee 83-73--Titans Update
Howard, Williams Earn All-Horizon League
Men's Basketball Drops First Round HL Game at Milwaukee,

Shearer, Galloway Both Honored As Horizon League Player Of The
Windy City Here We Come As Detroit Takes On UIC On
UDM Out Run By UIC On The Road On

Brilliant inbound play saves Oakland in Horizon League tournament opener--The Dagger
Greg Kampe, Oakland University draw up Play of the Week (VIDEO)--It's Always Sunny In Detroit
Yashinsky: Oakland U's Travis Bader is Worthy of NBA Consideration--Deadline Detroit
Bader closes career as NCAA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made-- The Daily Orange
Oakland seeking remedy for late-game struggles in preparation for Tuesday's first-round conference tournament game--The Oakland Press
Oakland gets improbable OT win over Youngstown State in Horizon League Tournament--The Oakland Press
Oakland Takes Down Youngstown State 96-92 in OT--Grizz Gang
Oakland Closes Their 2013-2014 Season with Wright State--Grizz Gang
Grizzlies advance to second round of Horizon League Tournament--Oakland Post
Grizzlies Fight Back, Edge Youngstown State In OT


UIC Opens Horizon League Tournament at Valparaiso--The Catch and Shoot
Conference Tournament Preview: Horizon League--The Catch and Shoot
UIC Season Ends With Tournament Loss at Valparaiso--The Catch and Shoot
UIC shows some fight before flaming out 73-63--The Chicago Tribune
UIC to retain Moore despite 6-25 season--The Chicago Tribune
Men’s basketball edged in regular season finale--UIC News
Flames put up fight versus Valpo--UIC News
Birt voted to All-Freshman Team--Whoosh!Net
End of a rough road--Whoosh!Net
UIC Beaten by Valparaiso 73-63--Flame Fanatic
Pat Birt Named to Horizon League's All-Freshman
UIC Goes Down Fighting in 73-63 Defeat at

Flames fall at Cleveland State--UIC News
Women’s basketball sets record for single-season wins--UIC News
Women grab tournament spot with win over Detroit--UIC News
Flames Play Host to Detroit for Senior
Flames Secure No. 4 Seed with 83-66 Victory over

Horizon League Tournament Preview: Keifer Sykes Wants to be Seen as a Winner--wearegreenbay
Phoenix Senior Alec Brown Has Goals Within Reach--wearegreenbay
Men's basketball: Sykes leads UWGB sweep of Horizon League awards--Green Bay Press Gazette
Men's basketball: UWGB knows home court not enough to win Horizon League tournament--Green Bay Press Gazette
SYKED OUT--UWGB Fourth Estate
Resch will be rocking on Saturday--Phear The Phoenix

Women's basketball: UWGB vs. Oakland preview--Green Bay Press Gazette
Women's basketball: UWGB clinches share of 16th straight Horizon League title--Green Bay Press Gazette
Women's Basketball Concludes Regular Season at
Sweet 16th: Phoenix Captures Horizon League Regular Season

UWM looks to make noise in Horizon tournament--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Strong victory starts Panthers' tournament run--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Panthers look to make a run in league tournament--On Milwaukee
Titans, Panthers meet in first round--PantherU
Milwaukee knocks off Detroit, Valpo up next--PantherU
Bench key for Panthers down the stretch--PantherU
Milwaukee Gets Win against Detroit 83-73--UWM Update
Milwaukee Closes Their 2013-2014 Season against Valparaiso--UWM Update
Video: Tiby Previews Horizon League
Panthers Build Big Lead, Beat Detroit To Advance In League
Panthers Headed To Green Bay For Tourney Matchup With
Video:Steve McWhorter TWC SportsChannel Postgame
Video: Conroy Provides Preview Of Friday's Matchup With

Panthers get routed by lowly Crusaders--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Shorthanded Panthers Fall To Second-Half

Men’s basketball: Three Crusaders earn Horizon League honors--The Post-Tribune
GORCHES: Valpo’s tourney success hinges on turnovers--The Post-Tribune
Valpo holds on against UIC in HL tourney--The Post-Tribune
Valparaiso has tougher task at hand against Milwaukee--The Post-Tribune
Scouting the Horizon League Tournament--The NWI Times
Dority looking to lead Crusaders on deep run--The NWI Times
Valparaiso advances to face Milwaukee in Horizon League second round--The NWI Times NWI Times
Valparaiso Drops UIC 73-63--Valpo Daily
Valparaiso Finishes Their 2013-2014 Season with Milwaukee--Valpo Daily
Valpo Men's Basketball Weekly Preview
Crusaders Take Down UIC in Opening Round of HL
Crusaders Set to Show Down With Panthers

Valpo women still alive for HL eighth seed--The Post-Tribune
Crusaders score season-high 90 points in home finale--The NWI Times
Richardson, Karungi Combine for 47 Points in 94-80 Win over

Two WSU players named to HL all-league teams--Dayton Daily News
Wright State-Oakland preview--Dayton Daily News
Updated: Wright State (18-13) Faces Oakland (13-19)--Rowdy Review
Men’s Basketball: Raiders looking to shut down Bader in quarterfinal game versus Oakland--The Guardian

Big win nets big rewards for WSU women’s hoops--Dayton Daily News
Women’s Basketball: Raiders suffocate Penguins, clinch No.2 seed in HL Tournament--The Guardian
Women Roll at Youngstown

Perry again earns top honor--Youngstown Vindicator
Oakland ousts YSU in overtime--Youngstown Vindicator
Last-second play dooms YSU in first round of HL tourney--Mahoning Valley Tribune Chronicle
Youngstown State Drops One to Oakland 96-92 in OT--Guin Report
Perry Ties Career-Scoring High As Penguins Fall to Oakland in Overtime,

YSU women still chasing second placeYSU women still chasing second place--Youngstown Vindicator
Wright State powers past Penguin women--Youngstown Vindicator
Guins Show Fight in Second Half, Fall to Wright

The Madness Begins as Home Teams Advance--Horizon League Network

Women's Basketball Weekly - March 4th--Horizon League Network
Hot Shooting Leads Valpo and WSU to Wins on Wednesday Night--Horizon League Network
GB Clinches Share of Regular Season Title, UIC a Home Tournament Game on Thursday Night--Horizon League Network

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