#HLMBB Games Preview – February 14th – February 17th

Photo courtesy of Green Bay Athletics

It’s safe to say that we continue to have been wrong about our preseason predictions of Green Bay, with the Phoenix approaching this week alone in first place. As for the rest of the Horizon League, there will be plenty of opportunities to keep close to each other, especially when each win is critical to seeding for the conference tournament. All times ET and on ESPN+.

Wednesday, February 14th

Robert Morris at Youngstown State, 6:30pm: The Colonials, despite their ups and downs all seasons, still have a chance to move up the standings and get a much better seed than the ninth place they currently sit at. In their way are the Penguins, who are reeling from a last-second loss to Green Bay. YSU also benefits from being at hope and having beaten Robert Morris handily in the first meeting. But, as was the case last season, the Colonials will be upset-minded.

IUPUI at Detroit Mercy, 7pm: This may very well be the last chance in the Titans’ winless season to score a victory (unless Wright State wants to repeat its performance when they meet next at Calihan Hall). The Jaguars, after all, haven’t won since upsetting Purdue Fort Wayne, and aside from a single-digit loss to Wright State, haven’t been in any of those other defeats. Still, IUPUI’s 12-point win over Detroit Mercy in the first meeting wasn’t as close as the final score indicated, and Jlynn Counter was out that game. But so was Jayden Stone. It’s anyone’s guess how this match-up will turn out, but best believe that this will be one of those games that is watched with the same morbid intrigue as a Real Housewives reunion show.

Milwaukee at Cleveland State, 7pm: The Vikings looked to run the Panthers out of their own gym to start off their first meeting together. Then, somewhere along the line, the wheels came off for Cleveland State, and the Vikings ended up losing. Now, Cleveland State, riding the hot hand of Tristan Enaruna, will come up against a Milwaukee team desperate for a road win. But, as nearly every opponent has learned this season, wins at the Wolstein are hard to come by.

Oakland at Purdue Fort Wayne, 7pm: It’s weird to think that the Mastodons could win 20 games this season and yet somehow finish in the bottom half of the standings. But that’s exactly where Purdue Fort Wayne is at the moment, courtesy of a five-game losing streak early in the conference schedule that the Mastodons have struggled to climb above. The Grizz, which felt the wrath of the hot Purdue Fort Wayne that started the season, is on a heater of their own and are seeking to avenge the trouncing they received in the first contest, with the extra added bonus of staying within striking distance of the Phoenix in the standings, should they win.

Northern Kentucky at Green Bay, 7pm: The Norse have struggled all season, but are still tied with Cleveland State for the last first-round bye spot. But they’ve headed to Wisconsin this week, and while NKU easily bested the Phoenix in confines of Truist Arena, the Resch Center will be far less friendly. Green Bay will look to have Noah Reynolds back after he sat out the Youngstown State game due to illness. But even if that lingers and he’s still unavailable, as the Phoenix triumph over the Penguins proved, they’ll have plenty of other weapons to choose from.

Saturday, February 17th

Purdue Fort Wayne at Detroit Mercy, 1pm: The New Year’s Eve match-up between these two teams was anything but, with Stone out and Eric Mulder feasting in this paint for the Mastodons. Oddly enough, PFW’s 91-56 drubbing didn’t include a lot of three-pointers, especially in the first half, when both teams only made three…combined. Expect that to change in this game, now that Stone is back, and the Mastodons shooting much better from behind the arc. If the Titans try to match three-point shot for three-point shot, they’re sunk.

Robert Morris at Wright State, 1pm: The Colonials’ road show continues with a game against the Raiders, a team that hammered them in Moon Township and dropped 101 points on them. With Wright State scoring an uncharacteristically low 60 points in its loss to Oakland, the Raiders will be ready to outrun RMU once again. That will mean that Trey Calvin and Tanner Holden will look to rebound from their dismal shooting in the defeat, and will probably have plenty of opportunities to do just that.

Youngstown State at Cleveland State, 3pm: It’s true that the Vikings have a near-aura of invincibility while playing at the Wolstein Center this season. But with the Penguins, it’s going to take a lot more than that to pull out the W. YSU made Cleveland State’s life miserable in the first game, dominating the Vikings on the glass. That will likely be the theme again this time around, so CSU will need to find a way to contain the Penguins and their ability to get scoring from just about anywhere in their rotation.

IUPUI at Oakland, 3pm: The Jaguars are probably in trouble in the contest, as the Golden Grizzlies have the top of the standings on their minds, and have so many options on offense, IUPUI will have a real issue keeping any of them from going off. Add to that the Jaguars are, and have been all year, one of the country’s worst three-point shooting teams, while on the other hand, Oakland has at least two players (likely more) who could make a living from beyond the arc in this game.

Milwaukee at Northern Kentucky, 7pm: Given that both of these teams are close in the conference standings, whoever comes out on time could mean the difference between a first-round bye or not. The Norse got the best of the Panthers in the first match-up, but with this tilt in Milwaukee, Northern Kentucky will have a much tougher fight of its hands. The Panthers will make sure of that.

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