#HLMBB Games Preview – February 1st – February 4th

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Photo courtesy of Youngstown State Athletics/Robert Hayes

It’s ironic that Groundhog Day is this Friday. And while there are no games on that day, the situation, in which eight Horizon League teams are within two games in the loss column of each other, is something we’ve seen on enough occasions, it hearkens back to the plot of the classic Bill Murray movie. While the potential for separation is there, it’s just as likely that we may find ourselves continuing to stare at the same group close to each other. All times ET and on ESPN+, unless noted

Thursday, February 1st

IUPUI at Green Bay, noon: For the past couple of years, the Education Day games have been something of a tradition that the Jaguars have embraced. For this game, it’s the Phoenix’s turn, and sitting at the top of the standings, they’ll be looking to keep it that way. IUPUI, on the other hand, made it a game against Wright State but fell short. With time ticking, the Jaguars are desperate to pull themselves out of the bottom of the standings.

Cleveland State at Detroit Mercy, 7pm: The Titans are in a bad way, even moreso, considering their dwindling depth, particularly up front. As with the last contest in which the Vikings prevail, CSU will look to dominate in the paint again, while also keeping Jayden Stone and Marcus Tankersley in check. A wrinkle in this game will be Emmanuel Kuac, who wasn’t available for the first game, and whether he can play extended minutes.

Milwaukee at Purdue Fort Wayne, 7pm: The Mastodons got out of a five-game skid in a big way on national television by beating Northern Kentucky on the road. Now Purdue Fort Wayne will enjoy a three-game home stand, even though the competition won’t make it all that easy. The Panthers will rely even more on Langston Wilson and Faizon Fields to compensate for the loss of Darius Duffy for the season. Waiting for them will be Eric Mulder, who’s been key to the Mastodons’ plan to use him up front to free up their shooters.

Robert Morris at Oakland, 7pm: Home has been kind to the Golden Grizzlies, and they will be happy to return to the O’rena after splitting a pair of games in Wisconsin. For the Colonials, they have to figure out a way to close out games, which befell them against Cleveland State and almost caught up with them at home against Detroit Mercy. The key battle in the match-up will be Markeese Hastings and Trey Townsend, but you can expect plenty of other fireworks for the rest of both teams’ respective rotations.

Youngstown State at Wright State, 9pm (ESPNU): The last contests between these two teams was a barnburner at Beeghly, in which Gabe Dynes was a key factor in turning around the Penguins’ fortune to come away with the win. For the match-up, though, Dynes may not be available, as he hurt his hand against Oakland. That may not make all that much of a difference, as Immanuel Zorgvol has stepped in to complement DJ Burns on the glass. Depth will be a key here once again, as the YSU rotation will run headlong into a Raider rotation that has gotten deeper in recent games with freshmen Dray Carter, Kaden Brown and Logan Woods getting more action.

Saturday, February 3rd

Cleveland State at Oakland, 1pm: The Vikings prevailed in the first tilt at the Wolstein Center, where they seem invincible (Wright State loss notwithstanding), even when the chips are stacked against them (see: Robert Morris & Purdue Fort Wayne). This time, it’s the Grizz who will have the benefit of home cooking. No matter what, it will be a matter of which team will have the more balanced attack. Adding to the intrigue will be the three-point shooting. Jack Gohlke and Blake Lampman came up big against Milwaukee, while Jayson Woodrich was a key factor in the CSU win over the Colonials.

Robert Morris at Detroit Mercy, 1pm: Depending upon the outcome of the Titans game against Cleveland State, this game could very well be the one that puts Detroit Mercy on the wrong side of history with its 24th straight loss. The Colonials struggled to pull out the win in double OT in the first contest at home, courtesy of Hastings and TJ Wainwright. The good news is that Jackson Last, who was out during the first game, is back and will be looked on as a defensive factor to hold Stone and Tankersley at bay.

Sunday, February 4th

Wright State at Northern Kentucky, 2pm: Sparks always fly when these two rivals face each other, and this match-up at Truist Arena will be no different. While both teams have plenty of star power, with Trey Calvin and Tanner Holden for the Raiders and Marques Warrick for the Norse, it will be the rest of the cast that will be key, specifically Brandon Noel and AJ Braun, who will have to contend with Keeyan Itejere and LJ Wells up front.

Youngstown State at Purdue Fort Wayne, 2pm: The Mastodons couldn’t keep up with the Penguins in the first contest, which started their five-game losing streak. Now at home, PFW will look to get off to a much faster start against YSU, but it will be tough once again, especially with the Penguin depth capable of hitting the Mastodons on multiple fronts.

IUPUI at Youngstown State, 3pm: The Jaguars conclude their trip through Wisconsin with a game against the Panthers. And whatever issues Horizon League teams have had during this trip, IUPUI will likely have the same problems, as Milwaukee will look to pour on the scoring through Freeman and Pullian, while also using Wilson and Fields to clean up the glass.

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