If it seems as if the logjam that usually happens in the middle of the Horizon League standings every year moved to the top, your eyes are not deceiving you. Four teams now sit at 6-2, and, as a result, share the lead. Two games this week will feature these top teams playing each other, so things may clear up, although the rest of the league will be eager to also play spoilers.
Thursday, January 19th
Cleveland State at Northern Kentucky, 7pm ET (ESPN+): Two of the four 6-2 teams kick things off against each other. The Vikings under Daniyal Robinson have created a steel-reinforced concrete wall of a defense, which Purdue Fort Wayne found out the hard way, not to mention a 24-point, 12-rebound performance by Tristan Enaruna. The Norse, of course, have weapons of their own, specifically Marques Warrick, who is capable to going off at any time. CSU’s ability to guard the three and the fight in the paint will be the key.
Purdue Fort Wayne at Wright State, 7pm ET (ESPN+): Given the way both teams started the season, it’s strange to see them both at 4-4. And yet, here we are. Ra Kpedi is going to have his hands full in the frontcourt with a health 1-2 punch of Brandon Noel and AJ Braun. On the other hand, the Raiders will run headlong into a Mastodon offense looking to get fired back up beyond the arc after a relatively dismal showing against Cleveland State.
Oakland at IUPUI, 7pm ET (ESPN+): The Golden Grizzlies had their five-game win streak snapped at the hands of Youngstown State, and the Jaguars are now in their way. If Oakland was looking for a bounceback game, the timing couldn’t be better, as the Grizz will likely have too much for IUPUI, who are at a league-worst -16.9 points per game margin do far in the conference slate.
Youngstown State at Green Bay, 8pm ET (ESPN+): Even though the Penguins are tied with four other teams in first place, they ride a strong showing in Michigan into Wisconsin, where the Phoenix, who were blasted at home by both Northern Kentucky and Wright State, awaits. Except the same level of firepower that Youngstown State used in its last three games to rain down on Green Bay.
Robert Morris at Milwaukee, 8pm ET (ESPN+): The Colonials have been in a bit of slump lately, having dropped four of the last five contests. Getting back into the swing of things will be a tough proposal for RMU, as the Panthers will be looking to get back into the win column about dropping a decision to Wright State that knocked them back into a tie for the top spot in the standings. BJ Freeman has been the hot hand of late for Milwaukee, as has Enoch Cheeks for Robert Morris. Kahliel Spear will likely be in the mix for the Colonials, while the Panthers have a litany of weapons to choose from.
Saturday, January 21st
Detroit Mercy at IUPUI, noon ET (ESPN+): At this point, the Jaguars are really struggling through the season. And their reward for making it to the halfway point of the conference slate is a date with Antoine Davis and the rest of the Titans. Gerald Liddell, who was hampered with an injury and working back from that, is going to give Chris Osten and Jonah Carrasco all kinds of headaches as well.
Purdue Fort Wayne at Northern Kentucky, 6pm ET (ESPN+): While both of these teams were picked as co-champions in the preseason, their respective results have been different, with the Norse hovering around the top of the standings, while the Mastodons lingering somewhere in the middle. Even though Purdue Fort Wayne was probably not expecting to play a spoil role at this stage of the season, that’s exactly where the Mastodons are. That won’t make this contest any less exciting, with likely all-conference first-teamers Jarred Godfrey and Marques Warrick almost certainly playing a role in the outcome.
Robert Morris at Green Bay, 7pm ET (ESPN+): The Colonials can’t afford to get swept on another road trip again, especially after starting the conference slate strong. To avoid this, Robert Morris will need to keep the Phoenix from getting hot from three, as they have done previously. Kahliel Spear, on the other hand, is likely poised for a big game in the paint, though Cade Meyer may have something to say about that.
Youngstown State at Milwaukee, 7pm (ESPN+): Depending on the outcomes of the Thursday games, this contest will feature the other two teams at the top of the standings. Ironically, the signature for both squads is their ability to have any player in the rotation come out and make some noise, be it Dwayne Cohill, BJ Freeman, Malek Green, Kentrell Pullian or literally anyone else. Given how prolific each team is on the offensive end, expect a high-scoring affair and one that you don’t want to miss.
Cleveland State at Wright State, 7pm (ESPN+): The last time these two teams met, it was the Horizon League Tournament semifinals in Indianapolis, where the Raiders prevailed and eventually punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. While some of the key players on both sides of that contest have moved on, a few remain, including the guy who hit the game-winning shot in that championship game, Trey Calvin. For the Vikings, keeping Calvin at bay will be critical, as will winning the fight on the board, which will be no small feat with Brandon Noel and AJ Braun up front.
Monday, January 23rd
Oakland at Detroit Mercy, 7pm ET (ESPN+): It’s another installment of the Metro Series that the Golden Grizzlies have essentially dominated throughout. Will this time be any different for the Titans? With Antoine Davis, anything is possible. Gerald Liddell and Trey Townsend will likely be the main battle in the frontcourt, as Davis and Jalen Moore will be at guard.
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The #HLMBB game previews are sent out the day prior to the start of the week’s conference slate and published on the first gameday on horizoneroundtable.com. Sign up for the newsletter on the form below to receive the game previews in advance!