#HLMBB Rooting Interest Guide

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Your school’s path to its best #HLMBB Tourney seed

With less than a week left in the Horizon League Men’s Basketball regular season, only one team is technically locked into its spot for the Horizon League Tournament. These final two days of Horizon League regular season seem primed for a ton of excitement, and possibly a lot of movement in the standings.

While most of the scenarios that could move teams on either end of the standings require something that probably doesn’t need to be entertained as much as it’s about to be, there are first round byes and home court games at stake between now and Saturday.

So how does your team get the best outcome? And how does it get the best realistic outcome? Let’s take a look:

Oakland (14-5 in Horizon League play)

Oakland currently holds the top spot in the league, and can clinch the 1-seed in the Horizon League Tournament with a win against a 1-28 Detroit Mercy team that’s struggled so much with the Golden Grizzlies even before this season that OU fans are becoming less and less inclined to call it a rivalry. So the first thing that’s going to happen in this tiebreaker scenario article is that the writer is going to all-but ignore the possible tiebreakers. The Golden Grizzlies should wrap up the top seed and sole possession of first place in the Horizon League on Saturday.

Who should Oakland root for? Oakland

Youngstown State (13-6)

Like Oakland, Youngstown State only has a home game against Detroit Mercy between it and the end of the regular season. Unlike Oakland though, YSU doesn’t control its own destiny with regard to the seed it currently holds. Once again, this article will make a bold assumption declaring that the team with two victories in the last week will win at home against the team with one victory since March 1, 2023. From there, Youngstown State will be rooting for Green Bay to lose at either Cleveland State or Milwaukee. Youngstown State and Green Bay split the regular season series, and both swept the Wright State team that could also find itself tied for second place. As a result, the tiebreaker falls to how well each school did against league opponents starting at the top of the standings. YSU didn’t manage a win against Oakland, while Green Bay did.

A seemingly sure win along with a Green Bay loss in one of its two remaining road games gets YSU the 2-seed.

Who should YSU fans root for? Cleveland State and Milwaukee

Green Bay (12-6)

Realistically, Green Bay controls its own destiny for the best remaining outcome any fan could expect. If the Phoenix win out, the team gets the 2-seed no matter what else happens by way of the sweep over Wright State and the victory over Oakland that Youngstown State doesn’t have. If Green Bay gets to 14-6, Green Bay is the 2-seed.

Unrealistically, if Detroit Mercy were to go on the road and win against the league’s current top two teams in the standings Oakland and Youngstown State, Green Bay could still earn the top spot. All that would have to happen after Detroit Mercy moved to 3-28 would be for Green Bay to go on the road to beat Cleveland State and Milwaukee, then for Wright State to win at home against Purdue Fort Wayne and Northern Kentucky. Green Bay gets the 1-seed in the event of a 3-way tie for first that includes Oakland and Wright State by way of its sweep of Wright State and a 3-1 combined record against WSU and Oakland.

Who should Green Bay fans root for? Detroit Mercy and Wright State
OK but seriously, who should Green Bay root for? Green Bay

Wright State (12-6)

Wright State still technically has a chance for a share of the Horizon League regular season crown, but most tiebreaker scenarios won’t be friendly to the Raiders. After being swept by both Youngstown State and Green Bay, WSU is going to need one of those silly Detroit Mercy miracles to come true in order to do better than a 3-seed.

The best realistic scenario for Wright State is simple: The Raiders win out and Green Bay doesn’t. Wright State gets the 3-seed and there’s nothing anyone else can do about it.

Wright State can also get it with a loss, but it becomes a lot more complicated. The Raiders hold a 1-game lead over Saturday’s opponent Northern Kentucky, but NKU would hold the tiebreaker edge if it beats Wright State directly. WSU can lose tomorrow to Purdue Fort Wayne and beat NKU, then rely on both of Green Bay’s opponents to handle business at home to still secure the 3-seed. A regular season-ending loss to NKU would mean the Norse would also have to drop tomorrow’s game at Robert Morris.

Who should Wright State fans root for? Cleveland State, Milwaukee, and Detroit Mercy
OK, but seriously? CSU and Milwaukee, plus Robert Morris for good measure

Northern Kentucky (11-7)

This is where it gets silly. There’s technically a non-zero chance that Northern Kentucky could be a 2-seed, and a non-zero chance the Norse could be an 8-seed.

This time, let’s go back to the best case scenario that is even remotely likely. NKU gets the 3-seed if it wins out and Green Bay loses at least once. Northern Kentucky swept Green Bay, so earning a split against the Raiders and their poor tiebreakers at the top of the league would put NKU in a good spot against both Green Bay and Wright State. The Norse obviously also get the spot if both Green Bay and WSU lose out while NKU takes care of Robert Morris tomorrow.

The absurd situation where Northern Kentucky gets the 2-seed would involve NKU winning out, a Youngstown State loss to Detroit Mercy, and Green Bay losing at least one game but finishing ahead of Wright State in the standings so that NKU’s Green Bay sweep mattered more than YSU’s sweep of Wright State.

Who should Northern Kentucky fans root for? Purdue Fort Wayne, UDM, CSU and/or Milwaukee
OK, but seriously? CSU and Milwaukee, plus Purdue Fort Wayne for good measure

Milwaukee (10-8)

Finally, a team that doesn’t care whether Detroit Mercy can do something miraculous or not!

Milwaukee’s best-case scenario remaining is a 4-seed, and the most unrealistic thing it relies on is probably Robert Morris winning at home against a Northern Kentucky team that’s won five of its last six. Not really likely, but a lot more likely than most of what you’ve been forced to think about for this article.

Milwaukee would need to win at IUPUI and at home against Green Bay to finish 12-8. From there, Cleveland State would need to beat the same opponents — both at home — to give Milwaukee an advantageous tiebreaker situation against the rest of the teams that would be vying for fourth.

Finally, Wright State would need to knock off NKU to both stay out of any tiebreakers and boot the Norse from the would-be 4-way tie. The Panthers’ season sweep of Cleveland State would earn the 4-seed if Milwaukee, Green Bay and Cleveland State finish in a 3-way tie for fourth place.

The more realistic scenario would be for NKU to beat RMU and leave Milwaukee’s most plausible “best case” scenario as a 5-seed.

Who should Milwaukee fans root for? Cleveland State, Wright State and Robert Morris

Cleveland State (10-8)

When it comes to the best case scenario, Cleveland State is in a terrible spot for tiebreakers. The Vikings have better wins against the league’s top teams than both Wright State and Milwaukee, but were swept by both schools and don’t want to end up tied with them. The other teams that the Vikings could finish tied with — Northern Kentucky and Green Bay — would not have swept CSU, but both did better against the top of the league.

Because of this, the best Cleveland State can do is the 5-seed, and the way that comes about is pretty straightforward. Cleveland State wins out against Green Bay and IUPUI, Northern Kentucky loses out, and Milwaukee loses to Green Bay. If NKU beats Robert Morris, the rest of that pretty reasonable scenario gets CSU the 6-seed.

Who should Cleveland State fans root for? Green Bay (once) Wright State, Robert Morris

Purdue Fort Wayne (9-9)

And with that, we’re back into the part of this article that relies on nonsense. Purdue Fort Wayne is currently extremely likely to get the 8-seed in the Horizon League Tournament, but the Mastodons could technically move up far enough in the standings to sit out the first round of Horizon League Tournament games as a 5-seed.

First, Purdue Fort Wayne would obviously need to win at Wright State and at home against Robert Morris to give itself as many wins as possible.

Next, IUPUI would need to win out, beating Milwaukee at home tomorrow and Cleveland State in Cleveland on Saturday. So this scenario is dead in the water. But let’s keep going before we get to the “realistic” circumstances.

From there, Green Bay would need to knock off the same two teams. It’s a much more likely set of results, but if IUPUI doesn’t win then this part gets weird as both CSU and Milwaukee swept Purdue Fort Wayne. The Mastodons either need CSU and Milwaukee to lose out or to win out to avoid them in head-to-head tiebreakers.

Finally, Northern Kentucky would need to lose out. The NKU loss at Robert Morris that’s been written off as probably a little too crazy in the last two sections now seems pretty reasonable by comparison. The likely best case scenario is probably for Purdue Fort Wayne, Milwaukee and Cleveland State to win out and for NKU to lose out. This leaves just one head-to-head tiebreaker: Purdue Fort Wayne’s 2-0 record against Northern Kentucky and the Mastodons get the 7-seed.

Who should Purdue Fort Wayne fans root for? Robert Morris, Green Bay, IUPUI, Wright State
OK, but really? Robert Morris, Wright State, Cleveland State, Milwaukee

Robert Morris (6-12)

RMU is the one team in the league that’s locked into its spot. The Colonials will be the 9-seed in the Horizon League Tournament. Colonial fans can focus on rooting for their team and for whatever results get them their preferred 8-seed out of Purdue Fort Wayne, Cleveland State, Milwaukee and Northern Kentucky:

Purdue Fort Wayne – A Purdue Fort Wayne loss.

Cleveland State – Cleveland State losing out, Purdue Fort Wayne winning out.

Milwaukee – Milwaukee losing out, Purdue Fort Wayne winning out, Cleveland State winning at least one game.

Northern Kentucky – Milwaukee and Cleveland State winning at least one game, Purdue Fort Wayne winning out while Northern Kentucky loses out.

Who should Robert Morris fans root for? Robert Morris and whichever teams make your favorite scenario above happen.

IUPUI (2-16)

IUPUI currently holds the 10-seed, and will have it going into the Horizon League Tournament unless this week’s games feature the absolute funniest result we see for a decade. The Jaguars are far more likely than Detroit Mercy to pull off a win, and the Jaguars are not likely to pull off a win.

Who should IUPUI fans root for? Literally any semblance of normalcy

Detroit Mercy (1-17)

Alright, too much of this article has been dedicated to Detroit Mercy magically winning one of its remaining games. UDM will be the 11-seed in the Horizon League tournament. The offseason will be here soon.

Who is UDM rooting for? The 6-seed that puts this season out of its misery one week from today

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