Horizon League: Simply put, it’s Valpo’s tournament to lose
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or firstname.lastname@example.org March 4, 2013 8:28PM
Valparaiso's Kevin Van Wijk and Erik Buggs talk during a timeout against Youngstown State in the second half at Valparaiso University Tuesday night. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Horizon League Tournament
First round, Tuesday
No. 9 Milwaukee at No. 4 Green Bay, 7 p.m.
No. 8 Cleveland State at No. 5 UIC, 7 p.m.
No. 7 Loyola at No. 6 Youngstown State, 6:05 p.m.
Second round, Friday
No. 3 Wright State vs. Youngstown State-Loyola winner, 5 p.m.
Green Bay-Milwaukee winner vs. UIC-Cleveland State winner, 7:30 p.m.
No. 2 Detroit vs. Wright State/Youngstown State/Loyola, 5 p.m.
No. 1 Valparaiso vs. Green Bay/Milwaukee/UIC/Cleveland State, 7:30 p.m.
Championship, March 12
At highest remaining seed, 8 p.m.
If you go
Tickets can be purchased online at www.valpoathletics.com/tickets, via phone at 219-464-5233 or by visiting the Valparaiso University ticket office (located in the main lobby of the ARC, hours this week 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.).
Tickets for Friday: $10 general admission seating for the session; groups of 10 or more $7 each; Horizon League students free with student ID
Tickets for Saturday: (same prices for March 12, if Valparaiso is playing, on sale at the ticket office and online after immediately after Saturday’s second game): Chairbacks $30; bleachers (upper and lower) $20; groups of 10 or more (upper only) $15; HL students with ID $10
Updated: April 6, 2013 6:24AM
For the second straight season, the Horizon League Tournament will roll into the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Will the home crowd leave happy this time around?
It appears the two heavyweights are on a collision course for another clash. But can another team, or teams, crash the party? Will there be upsets? Or will form hold?
Here’s one take on how the event could shake out:
No. 1 Valparaiso (24-7, 13-3 Horizon League)
Skinny: Quite simply, it’s the Crusaders’ tournament to lose. They put themselves in position to host again, they’ve been the league’s best team all season, and they seem to be peaking, including an arresting performance at Green Bay to close the regular season. With their six seniors, they’re focused and determined.
Osipoff’s odds-on outcome: Valparaiso punches its ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004, though it doesn’t come without some harrowing moments along the way.
No. 2 Detroit (20-11, 12-4)Skinny:
The Titans have tons of talent, and gobs of confidence — justifiably so. After all, at this point, we have a pretty good idea about what happened the last two times they played at the ARC.
Osipoff’s odds-on outcome: Detroit drops a classic to Valparaiso in the championship game.
No. 3 Wright State (19-11, 10-6)Skinny:
All the Raiders have done this season is earn a first-round bye after being picked in the preseason to place ninth and last. Billy Donlon has coached them up, and they become even more dangerous if Cole Darling returns, after the junior forward has missed four straight games with a foot injury.
Osipoff’s odds-on outcome: Wright State gives Detroit everything it can handle in the semifinals, but falls just short.
No. 4 Green Bay (16-14, 10-6)Skinny:
It was fairly surprising that the Phoenix didn’t at least challenge Valparaiso at home — though maybe that spoke more to the Crusaders’ play. They still have two of the league’s best players in Alec Brown and Keifer Sykes, and an emerging one in freshman Jordan Fouse.
Osipoff’s odds-on outcome: Green Bay keeps it closer against Valparaiso in the semifinals, but loses that matchup for the third time this season.
No. 5 UIC (16-14, 7-9)Skinny:
The Flames have not had a home first-round tournament game since 2008, when they reached the semifinals as a No. 4 seed. They doubled their win total from last season (8-22) and more than doubled their league wins (3-15) (in two fewer games, of course).
Osipoff’s odds-on outcome: UIC, which lost both games to Cleveland State during the regular season, gets out of the first round for the first time since 2009, but not beyond.
No. 6 Youngstown State (16-14, 7-9)Skinny:
The health of Kendrick Perry (knee) is the key question surrounding the Penguins, with the standout guard having missed the last three games. They lost their last three league games (two without Perry), with a BracketBusters win against Central Michigan (without Perry) mixed into the streak.
Osipoff’s odds-on outcome: Youngstown State narrowly bows out in the first round (figuring Perry doesn’t play, or isn’t that close to 100 percent).
No. 7 Loyola (15-15, 5-11)
Skinny: The Ramblers secured their best seed since they were No. 3 in 2007, after going 7-23 last season, including 1-17 in league play. Senior forward Ben Averkamp (concussion symptoms) came off the bench in the regular-season finale against Cleveland State, after missing six straight games. Point guard Cully Payne (left thumb) has missed five straight games.
Osipoff’s odds-on outcome: Loyola advances past the first round for the first time since 2008, after losing both regular-season games against Youngstown by a combined three points (hey, can’t go with the chalk the whole way).
No. 8 Cleveland State (14-17, 5-11)Skinny:
The loss of Anton Grady (knee) dramatically changed the complexion of the Vikings’ season. They do have a very promising player in freshman Bryn Forbes. Charlie Lee led the league in assists.
Osipoff’s odds-on outcome: Cleveland State gets ready to do some things next season, after one more game this season.
No. 9 Milwaukee (8-23, 3-13)Skinny:
It has been an uncharacteristic season for the Panthers, including finishing last by two games. It would be difficult to envision them getting hot at this late date.
Osipoff’s odds-on outcome: Milwaukee doesn’t upset in-state rival Green Bay, which won the two regular-season meetings by an average of 18.5 points.