#HLMBB Games Preview – February 28th – March 2nd

0
340

While Oakland has the regular season title all but wrapped up, nothing has been quite settled for the teams in second through eighth place (although it looks pretty certain that Purdue Fort Wayne is basically assured eighth, unless something crazy happens). In fact, there’s still a realistic possibility that five teams could end the regular season 12-8 in the conference standings, making the tiebreakers a thing we’ll just let the Horizon League figure out.

Needless to say, there’s plenty of action this week that could decide what ultimately happens as far as seeding is concerned. And at least three of the top five, which come with a first-round bye and home games for four of the five are up for grabs. So buckle up. It’s going to be quite a ride to close things out. All times ET and on ESPN+ (Unless noted).

Wednesday, February 28th

Detroit Mercy at Youngstown State, 6:30pm: The Penguins accomplished something that no other Horizon League team has this season: Sweep the Wisconsin trip. YSU’s closing match-up will be against a Titan squad the Penguins walloped at Calihan Hall, even without the services of 7-3 Gabe Dynes. Look for Youngstown State, who appears to have locked up at worst a No. 4 seed, to experiment with some rotational changes, much as the Penguins did that worked so well in Wisconsin.

Green Bay at Cleveland State, 7pm: The Phoenix had a week they’d like to forget, dropping a pair of games at home without Noah Reynolds, who was out with an injury. With his status in question, Green Bay travels to the Wolstein Center, where the Vikings will be out to avenge an earlier loss against the Phoenix and have the decided homecourt advantage. Tristan Enaruna, who’s pretty much been automatic for 20+ points in conference games, will look to bolster his claim to Player of the Year, a title Reynolds, should he be healthy, will also fight for.

Purdue Fort Wayne at Wright State, 7pm: The Raiders trampled league-leading Oakland in the O’rena, which is ironic, because that’s exactly what the Mastodons did earlier this season. Against each other, Wright State dropped over 100 in the first contest, although Purdue Fort Wayne tried to fight back from a double-digit deficit to make a game of it. Expect no fewer fireworks in the match-up at the Nutter Center, with the Raiders likely to once again take advantage in the paint, where Brandon Noel and AJ Braun aim to stay settled in the way they were against the Grizz.

Milwaukee at IUPUI, 7pm: The Panthers won’t look ahead to the season closer against Green Bay, so they’ll likely take what they learned from the 20-point win over the Jaguars in Milwaukee and expound on it. Faizon Field harassed the IUPUI frontcourt for most of the first contest, and he’ll be looking to do the same thing again. BJ Freeman, coming off a 38-point game in a win over Purdue Fort Wayne, will also be coming out firing as well.

Northern Kentucky at Robert Morris, 7pm: The Colonials gave the Norse headaches in the first game before NKU ultimately straightened out and took the win. But that was in November, when the Norse still had Sam Vinson, who’s now hurt, and Cade Meyer, who left the team. Add the uncertainty of the status of Keeyan Itejere, and Robert Morris might have some hope in the paint. That was evident against Cleveland State, where Markeese Hastings and Alvaro Folgueiras kept pace with the Viking front. The Colonials could fare much better against the depleted Norse, plus could benefit from some hot shooting by Josh Corbin. But that could, of course, get canceled out by Marques Warrick at any time.

Saturday, March 2nd

IUPUI at Cleveland State, 6pm: The Jaguars are probably trying to make it to the end of the regular season without any further injuries, although the status of Bryce Monroe may still be up in the air by tip-off of this game. The Vikings not only have the benefit of playing at home, they also, like everyone else in the league lately, seem to overmatch IUPUI in every spot on the floor. Cleveland State will look to press early, something that will give the Jags headaches and, perhaps worse, turnovers they can’t afford the give up, especially with the way their opponents have taken advantage of miscues.

Green Bay at Milwaukee, 6pm (ESPNU): A nationally-televised game between two bitter rivals? If you didn’t already throw the records out, you definitely want to. There’s one or two out of the countless scenarios where the Panthers can leapfrog the Phoenix in the standings, so if nothing else, Milwaukee will be playing to even the season series and get a little revenge for the early-season loss. Green Bay still needs a win to net a first-round bye, so the Phoenix plan on fighting tooth and nail to keep that edge going into the Horizon League tournament.

Detroit Mercy at Oakland, 6pm: Speaking of throwing the records out, the Titans would probably like that very much, not only for this season but also their putrid record in the Metro Series. Depending on how things shook out on Wednesday, the Golden Grizzlies may also be the outright regular season league champs going into this contest, but there’d no reason to expect that they’ll take the foot off the gas, even if its cross-town rival is as low as it is this year.

Northern Kentucky at Wright State, 7pm: It’s the third in what many would consider a rivalry game. In this case, it’s the one that’s been the most closely watched in recent memory, given that both these teams have fought each other for the highest of stakes over the years. But with the Norse short-handed up front, this could be an opportunity for the Raiders, with Noel and Braun, to leave no doubt in this season’s series between the two schools.

Robert Morris at Purdue Fort Wayne, 7pm: While not a rivalry game, the Mastodons, who didn’t fare very well in Moon Township, will aim to even the score against the Colonials. Depending on the outcome of this match-up, there’s a real possibility that these two teams will see each other again on Tuesday as the 8-9 contest, also in Fort Wayne. Though the outcome won’t have much intrigue as far as tournament implications go, considering the back-and-forth that took place in the first contest, you can expect them to do the same in this game and, most likely, on Tuesday as well.

Leave a Reply