#HLMBB Tournament Staff Picks: Semifinals

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The Horizon League’s four quarterfinal games featured five total overtimes and one game that ended in regulation on a buzzer-beating putback. When the dust settled, top seed Cleveland State and seedline favorites Oakland and Northern Kentucky advanced; while odds-on favorite to win the tournament Wright State was stunned by 8-seed Milwaukee.

While we’ve usually tried to have write-ups done by the people who actually picked each team, the way the tournament shook out was too perfect. The four members of the site to appear most frequently on the podcast are alumni of the four remaining teams vying for the automatic bid. Bob, Matt, Kyle and John are joined in the predictions by Alec Kwait, Marc Weems, Horizon Boy, and Will Baptist. In today’s picks, the top seed was the overwhelming favorite while the other game was a little bit closer.

Cleveland State vs. Milwaukee

Cleveland State avoided scare after scare from Purdue Fort Wayne to escape with a 108-104 triple overtime victory in a contest that’ll be hard to top as the best game of Conference Tournament play. Milwaukee was involved in a game that’ll go down as one of the most memorable of tournament play as well, overcoming a 24-point deficit with 6:15 to play to beat Wright State many people’s favorite to win the tournament 94-92 in overtime. On paper the Vikings should have the advantage here, and our panel overwhelmingly agrees.

TeamBobMattKyleJohnAlecMarcHorizon
Boy
Will
Cleveland State
Milwaukee

How does Cleveland State win?

When Milwaukee overcame a 13-point deficit in their second meeting earlier this season, CSU ran into the perfect storm of not being able to score while the Panthers couldn’t miss. Ironically, this is the same issue that almost sent the Vikings packing in the quarterfinals.

As with the win against the Mastodons, the key to winning in the semifinals (Al Eichelberger bank threes notwithstanding) is to get Torrey Patton slashing to the basket. Also, coach Dennis Gates will need another player, be it Craig Beaudion (who was the hot shooter in the first win over the Panthers), Tre Gomillion (who also can slash to the hoop) or someone else to chip in double digits. Fortunately, Gates has plenty of capable to choose from on that front.

Bob McDonald

How does Milwaukee win?

Have you seen Angels in the Outfield?

John Parker

Northern Kentucky vs. Oakland

Last week, Oakland-Youngstown State and NKU-Detroit Mercy were easily the most difficult games for our panel to decide. With one game going to overtime and the other ending with a game-winning buzzer beater, it shouldn’t be a shock that our panel sees very little difference between 3-seed Oakland and 4-seed Northern Kentucky. Don’t be shocked if the Horizon League Tournament’s entertainment value remains high beyond the quarterfinals.

TeamBobMattKyleJohnAlecMarcHorizon
Boy
Will
NKU
Oakland

How does Oakland win?

Why Oakland? Well, at some point they have to break their bad luck in the conference tournament and why not right now? Oakland is going to need another strong performance from the back court and a better version of Dan Oladapo then they got for the first half of the YSU game.

The good news is that asking for that isn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary. Oakland’s two freshmen have something to prove going against Warrick for NKU and they have the right coach to guide them into the finals. Finally. Hopefully.

Matt Dudek

How does Northern Kentucky win?

This game will come down to the margins. Oakland needs to shoot well, and NKU needs to not fall for the zone and shoot less 3s than they want to. Both teams need to win the rebounding battle and NKU needs to have less than 12 turnovers. Oakland’s Daniel Oladapo is a great rebounder, but Adrian Nelson is every bit his equal on the glass.

Kyle Craven

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