#HLMBB Games Preview – February 8th – 12th

Photo courtesy of Youngstown State Athletics/Dave Dermer

Well, that narrows it down…

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Well, that narrows it down…

Cleveland State’s brutal trip through Michigan, Milwaukee getting handed a major upset by Green Bay and Youngstown State dominating Northern Kentucky leaves the Penguins in sole possession of first place in the Horizon League standings.

At this point, it’s virtually anyone’s guess whether or not YSU will remain alone at the top, but given their play as of late, you have to like the Penguins’ chances in this final six-game run. Spoilers do abound, though, if the last week is any indication.

Wednesday, February 8th

IUPUI at Wright State, 7pm ET (ESPN+): The Jaguars finally got their first win against Green Bay in convincing fashion, and their performances in recent games suggest they’re gunning for more. The Raiders, on the other hand, beat Robert Morris by double digits, in spite of a serious hiccup in the second half where they lost their first double-digit lead. Wright State definitely has the size advantage, as well as the shooting firepower, particularly with Trey Calvin. It will come down to how well IUPUI can defend and hold onto the ball.

Thursday, February 9th

Detroit Mercy at Milwaukee, 8pm ET (ESPN+): How do the Panthers bounce back from what’s probably their worst loss of the year? Good question. Antoine Davis scorched both Cleveland State and Purdue Fort Wayne for 30+ points, and he’s averaged that against Milwaukee. The Panthers, who edged out the Titans at Calihan Hall in the first contest, will have to keep Davis’ supporting cast at bay, because stopping him doesn’t seem to be an option.

Oakland at Green Bay, 8pm ET (ESPN2): The Phoenix’s upset win over Milwaukee appears to have been the perfect storm of outstanding shooting, which they’ve actually displayed in previous games, and capitalizing on key miscues. The problem is that Green Bay hasn’t been consistent, and the Golden Grizzlies will look to attack, with Jalen Moore likely to make a real impact in the contest, along with Trey Townsend looking put his last performance against the Phoenix, where he fouled out, far in the rear-view mirror.

Friday, February 10th

Youngstown State at Purdue Fort Wayne, 7pm ET (ESPN+): Sitting alone in first place puts the Penguins in rarified air, as they not only are in position to solidify that spot but also snag their 20th win, which is something no YSU team has ever done as a member of the Horizon League. To do that, the Penguins have to get past a Mastodon team that beat them in Youngstown earlier in the season but was also pasted by Detroit Mercy the game before.

Robert Morris at Cleveland State, 7pm ET (ESPN+): It’s never fun to be bullied in your own house, but according to Colonials head coach Andy Toole, that’s exactly what the Vikings did to them during the first contest at the UPMC Events Center. The venue now shifts to Cleveland, where CSU has played much better. This could either be a repeat of the first game or, if their respective shooters get hot, become an shootout.

Northern Kentucky at Wright State, 9pm (ESPNU): As Green Bay and Milwaukee proved, you’ve got to throw out the records. And for the Norse, still within striking distance of first place, and the 7-7 Raiders, that’s exactly what you do. Wright State’s biggest issue appears to be defense, as the Raiders have no problem putting the ball in the basket. Now faced with a rival that has plenty of weapons, whatever defensive tweaks Wright State head coach Scott Nagy needs to make better be done in short order.

Saturday, February 11th

Detroit Mercy at Green Bay, 7pm ET (ESPN+): A few players on both sides that were active for the first match-up will be out of the lineup this time around. Two players that will be there will of course be Antoine Davis, who will look to do better than 3-for-12 beyond the arc that he shot during the first game, and Gerald Liddell, who is slowly getting back to the double-double machine he was at the start of the conference slate after suffering an injury.

Oakland at Milwaukee, 7pm ET (ESPN+): The Golden Grizzlies had no problem dispatching of the Panthers at the O’rena earlier this season, with five players scoring double digits. Milwaukee will be out for revenge here, and the sting of the Green Bay loss will still be fresh. With Oakland still a bit banged up, the Panthers will seek to take advantage, although Jalen Moore and Trey Townsend are playing as if they’re at 100 percent, which is always dangerous.

Sunday, February 12th

Youngstown State at Cleveland State, 1pm (ESPN+): The Vikings pride themselves on creating turnovers to produce points. The problem was in the first contest, the Penguins really didn’t oblige, and coupled their variety of offensive options, spelled doom for Cleveland State. With the return game in Cleveland, the Vikings will be looking to spoil YSU’s recent surge. For the Penguins, depending on the outcome of the Purdue Fort Wayne game, may be poised to set the school’s Division I record for wins.

Robert Morris at Purdue Fort Wayne, 1pm (ESPN+): Both of these teams have been incredibly inconsistent through the conference schedule, as indicated by their respective records. So it’s anyone’s guess on who will come out on top of this particular contest. Conventional wisdom would tell you that the Mastodons will prevail at home, but the Colonials, riding the hot hand of Enoch Cheeks in the first game, will look to take the sweep and could very well accomplish that.

IUPUI at Northern Kentucky, 1pm (ESPN+): In their first match-up, the Norse won but didn’t exactly run the Jaguars out of their own gym, shooting a dismal 29% from beyond the arc in the 55-42 victory. Since then, IUPUI has shot much better, so hitting only one three the entire game is not likely this time around. NKU remains one of the best defensive teams in the conference, though, so while a blowout win might not be in the cards, a win nonetheless may be.

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