The Horizon League Tournament has never had any shortage of excitement over the years, and the first round games were no exception, from a game-winning three by Michael Green III of Robert Morris to oust upstart IUPUI to Antoine Davis’ continued pursuit of history.
What transpires in the second round should be no less exciting, given how on any given night in the regular season, anyone could be anyone. With an NCAA Tournament bid on the line, the stakes are even higher.
No. 5 Oakland at No. 4 Northern Kentucky, 7 pm ET (ESPN+): The Golden Grizzlies and the Norse took turns beating each other up on their own home courts, and in the rubber match, Oakland will look to spoil NKU’s advantage at Truist Arena once again. For the Norse, they will, as always, rely on their 1-2 punch of Marques Warrick and Sam Vinson, the latter of which was key to their regular season-ending win at the O’rena. Oakland has been battered with injuries to several of their mainstays, and to advance, the Grizz will have to power through as they have through most of the regular season.
No. 6 RMU at No. 3 Cleveland State, 8pm ET (ESPN+): Neither of the two regular-season contests between these teams were anything to write home about. The first game was an ugly defensive battled, while the second featured the Vikings nearly giving up the win at home. Cleveland State triumphed in those two match-ups, and the Vikings will be eager to make it a third. Hindering the Colonials will be the short turnaround between games, the previous of which was needed the aforementioned Michael Green III game-winner to advance. Cleveland State will absolutely turn up the defense on Robert Morris again, with containing Kahliel Spear and Enoch Cheeks being the primary focus.
No. 7 Wright State at No. 2 Milwaukee, 8pm ET (ESPN+): For all the success that first-year Panthers head coach Bart Lundy has had this season, the Raiders were one of the few stumbling blocks, getting swept in the regular season series. Wright State’s frontcourt seemed to be a serious mismatch for Milwaukee in the victories, and it’s a safe bet that Raiders head coach Scott Nagy will look to exploit that once more time. For the Panthers, who will be without Markeith Browning, getting BJ Freeman going will be key, as well as using Defensive Player of the Year Ahmad Rand to counteract the Wright State attack in the paint.
No. 8 Detroit Mercy at No. 1 Youngstown State, 8 P.M. ET (ESPN+): A month ago, it looked as if there was little chance for Antoine Davis to overtake Pete Maravich as the NCAA’s all-time scoring leader. Since then, the Horizon League Player of the Year has gone on a tear, scoring over 30 points in all but one game to close out the regular season, and starting off the Horizon League Tournament with 38 points and a flirtation with a triple-double in a convincing Titan win over the Mastodons to get within 25 points of Pistol Pete. The top-seeded Penguins, however, are one of the few teams who were able to hold Davis at bay (at least for one game), and have a plethora of weapons to choose from, including Dwayne Cohill, Brandon Rush and Malek Green the counteract his offensive power. Detroit Mercy will also need Gerald Liddell to step up against Adrian Nelson, who, like Davis, has been in the zone as of late, particularly on the glass.