Here we go again.
The top four teams in the Horizon League all seem intent on sticking with each other, no matter how many times they test each other. And depending on the outcome of Thursday’s match-ups, we could see two of those teams test each other as well.
That’s not to say that everyone is out of the woods, although Milwaukee probably has the easiest time this week. Plenty of potential pitfalls remain for the top teams, and with it being February, anything is possible.
Thursday, February 2nd
Milwaukee at IUPUI, 11am ET (ESPN+): One thing you can say about the last-place Jaguars: they definitely lead the league in daytime field trip events. This time, Indiana Farmers Coliseum will play host to a swath of area high-schoolers…and a basketball game, too. You may be thinking that this is an easy win for the Panthers, but the way that IUPUI has played over the past five games, appearances are certainly deceiving. And if Milwaukee isn’t hitting on all cylinders, the Jaguars could take advantage.
Purdue Fort Wayne at Oakland, 7pm ET (ESPN+): The first contest between these two teams ended up on OT, where the Mastodons finally closed the deal. With both teams coming off close losses again, the Orena could set the stage for another exciting tilt. Jalen Moore has truly been the rock for with Oakland has stood recently, and expect that to be the case again. For the Mastodons, Damian Chong Qui had a monster night against Cleveland State, but they need to get Jarred Godfrey and Bobby Planutis, who were neutralized by the Vikings, back into the mix.
Wright State at Youngstown State, 7pm ET (ESPN+): The Beeghly Center, better known as the House of Heart Attacks, has lived up to that billing recently, but when you look at it, that’s not entirely true. Dwayne Cohill has dominated the second half in the last two wins, and the Penguins have plenty of wind in their sails to face a Raider team that seems to have gotten back into the swing of things as of late.
Cleveland State at Detroit Mercy, 7pm ET (ESPN+): The Vikings took care of business against the Titans in Cleveland the first time around, even as Antoine Davis dropped 23 and the double-double machine that was Gerald Liddell made his presence known. That was in December. Now, while Davis will still be a presence, Liddell may not be so much, as his productivity has fallen off since coming back from injury. Cleveland State will also likely go deep in its bench to use sheer attrition against the Titans.
Northern Kentucky at Robert Morris, 7pm ET (ESPN+): You never want to be the team going up against a squad looking to take their frustrations out on someone after ceding a 20-point lead. But the Colonials, who played the Norse close at Truist Arena, will be in the cozy confines of the UPMC Events Center, and home has been very kind to them as of late. This will also mark the start of Northern Kentucky’ stretch run that will feature seven of the last eight games on the road. So, needless to say, this week will be critical for the Norse to stay in the hunt for the top spot.
Saturday, February 4th
Green Bay at IUPUI, noon ET (ESPN+): The Rock Bottom Bowl, as it’s been coined by Brian Dickmann from Phear the Phoenix, is exactly as it sounds: a match-up between the bottom two teams in the conference. While the Phoenix prevailed in the first contest, a lot’s happened since then, and the Jaguars have some momentum going for them as of late. This may very well be the last game either team wins this season, although IUPUI, looking very strong recently, may have some other upsets in mind this month.
Cleveland State at Oakland, 1pm ET (ESPN+): The Vikings will be playing a much different Grizz team that they faced in December. Jalen Moore, in spite of scoring 18 points in December, was still hampered by an ankle injury and was vulnerable to Cleveland State’s swarming defense, resulting in four turnovers. With Moore showing signs that he’s healthy again, it will be far less likely that the Vikings will be able to force him into that many miscues again. But given the way Cleveland State has used its rotation, anything is possible.
Purdue Fort Wayne at Detroit Mercy, 1pm ET (ESPN+): The Mastodons will be eager to exact revenge on the Titans after losing the first game at home in December. Purdue Fort Wayne really had no answer for Gerald Liddell or Damezi Anderson, for that matter. It’s likely that the veteran Mastodon squad will make the necessary adjustments this time around to make sure anyone not named Antoine Davis doesn’t spell their doom.
Wright State at Robert Morris, 7pm ET (ESPN+): The Colonials began their conference slate with what was considered at the time an upset of the Raiders. While the lineups have remained the same, Robert Morris now has the homecourt advantage, which has worked out very well for them during this last span. Add to that Kahliel Spear, who has been the hot hand for the Colonials recently and out to produce even more.
Northern Kentucky at Youngstown State, 7pm ET (ESPN+): Like so many of the games at Truist Arenas, the first match-up between these two teams came down to the wire…twice. The Norse came out on top of that double OT affair, and now, with a share of first place potentially on the line once again, the Penguins will be looking for some payback in an atmosphere that’s bound to be pretty rowdy, if the last few games are any indication.
Monday, February 6th
Green Bay at Milwaukee, 8pm ET (ESPN+): We can at least take heart in the hope that next year’s games between these two teams will be more competitive. The Panthers will, in all likelihood, be eager to take it to their in-state rival, not to add insult to injury (although for some Milwaukee fans, it’ll be an extra added bonus), but to tune up for what will be an incredibly tough stretch the remainder of the month.