Previewing the #HLMBB opening weekend

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The tradition of the Horizon League opening is conference schedule on the first week of December continues this year, and probably not a moment too soon for teams looking to forget recent woes during the non-conference slate. Here’s a look at all the games coming up this weekend

Thursday, December 1st

Youngstown State at Northern Kentucky (7:00pm ET, Bally Sports Ohio/ESPN+): The Norse, coming off a an 85-77 double OT win over Tennessee Tech, host the Penguins, who cruised past Western Illinois in their last contest. Not only is this a test of two teams slated to finish in the top half of the league, it marks the return of ex-NKU forward Adrian Nelson, who has become a double-double machine for YSU.

Detroit Mercy at Purdue Fort Wayne (7:00pm, ESPN+): The Mastodons will be looking to expound on their romp of non-D1 Bluffton, while Detroit Mercy tries to find a way to win away from Calihan Hall, where the Titans seem invincible. And of course, with Antoine Davis only 18 points away from breaking the all-time Horizon League scoring record set by Alfredrick Hughes, the fast pace that PFW and UDM will likely play at will all bust assure Davis achieving this feat.

Oakland at Cleveland State (7:00pm, ESPN+): The Vikings, after their opening losses to D2 Notre Dame College, Cincinnati and Ohio, are currently on a four-game win streak and face a Golden Grizzlies squad whose star players, Jalen Moore and Rocket Watts, are seriously dinged up. Trey Townsend’s matching up with either Spider Johnson or Tristan Enaruna, coupled with Keaton Hervey vs. Tae Williams, will be critical to Oakland’s success.

Robert Morris at Wright State (7:00pm, ESPN+): The Colonials are still searching for that elusive win against a D1 team after coming close in Savannah, Georgia, only to come up short. That will be a tall tasked against a Raiders team that went 2-1 at the Vegas 4 and have plenty of firepower, namely Trey Calvin and reigning Horizon League Freshman of the Week Brandon Noel.

Milwaukee at Green Bay (8:00pm ET, ESPN+): The first of the annual rivalry’s two games starts in Green Bay, where the Phoenix look to secure its first win of the season. The Panthers, however, will make that task extremely hard, riding the wave of an undefeated showing at the Cream City Classic and a host of players ready to step up to contribute.

Saturday, December 3rd

Oakland at Purdue Fort Wayne (3:00pm ET, ESPNU): The first nationally-televised contest of the Horizon League conference schedule will feature the Mastodons and the Grizz. Regardless of the outcomes of the Thursday match-ups, the PFW backcourt onslaught, headed by Damian Chong Qui, Jarred Godfrey and Deonte Billups, will present a major challenge to Oakland’s, especially given the health of Moore and Watts.

Detroit Mercy at Cleveland State (3:00pm ET, ESPN+): If Davis hasn’t already set the conference career scoring record by the time this game tips off, it will undoubtedly fall here. The Titans will need to also find a scoring option besides Davis and Jayden Stone, not to mention have an answer for Johnson, Enaruna and Williams on the glass.

Robert Morris at Northern Kentucky (6:00pm, ESPN+): The opening conference slate for the Colonials doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Truist Arena to face the Norse. As will be the case all weekend, Northern Kentucky may need to make some rotation adjustments, depending on the health of Sam Vinson. The battle in the frontcourt will also be one to watch, with Kahliel Spear and Chris Brandon facing off.

IUPUI at Milwaukee (8:00pm, ESPN+): As will be the case throughout the entire conference schedule, IUPUI will take on each of the travel partners. To start, the Jaguars will face off against the Panthers. IUPUI is still seeking its first D1 win, and Milwaukee will likely be ready to deny the Jags that victory.

Sunday, December 4th

Youngstown State at Wright State (1:00pm ET, ESPN+): In another match-up between two teams projected to finish highly in the conference, the battle will be on all fronts, and Calvin and Tim Finke, among others for the Raiders will have to contend a Penguins backcourt led by Dwayne Cohill and Malek Green, while Noel and Nelson will duke it out in the frontcourt, with AJ Braun providing Wright State with some added muscle as well.

Monday, December 5th

IUPUI at Green Bay (12:00pm, ESPN+): Depending on the outcome of their respective games against Milwaukee, this may be a fight at the bottom of the standings. It may be too early to call this a must-win game for either squad, but honestly, this kind of is a must-win game. Ideally, the Jaguars will be looking for another top performance similar to Bryce Monroe’s 29-point showing against New Orleans, while the Phoenix will likely be seeking a breakout game from Cade Meyer or Nate Jenkins.

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