Horizon League Tournament Bracket
First Round Tournament Schedule:
Game 1: (10) Loyola at (3) Detroit, 7 p.m. ET – Horizon League Network
Game 2: (7) Green Bay at (6) Youngstown State, 7:05 p.m. ET – Horizon League Network
Game 3: (9) UIC at (4) Milwaukee, 8 p.m. ET – Horizon League Network
Game 4: (8) Wright State at (5) Butler, 7 p.m. ET – Horizon League Network
After one of the most balanced Horizon League men’s basketball regular seasons in conference history, the exciting carries over to the League Tournament, with perhaps the most wide open field in the tournament’s 33 years.
The tournament gets underway with three games at 7:00 p.m. ET, beginning with a Jesuit matchup in Detroit, where the third-seeded Titans (18-13) host No. 10 Loyola (7-22).
The long-standing rivals are meeting for the 121st time in a series that traces its roots back to the 1922-23 season. The Ramblers own a 67-53 lead in the all-time series, but have dropped seven straight and eight of the last 10 to the Titans. Detroit swept the regular-season series this year, claiming a 65-54 decision in Chicago on New Year's Eve, before successfully defending its home court in a 67-52 victory on January 25.
Loyola comes into Tuesday's game with 22 losses, but has played well of late, going 2-4 down the stretch with a pair of overtime defeats. The Ramblers rely on the frontcourt tandem of Ben Averkamp and Walt Gibler to shoulder the scoring load. Averkamp, a HL Second Teamer, scores a team-best 15.2 points per game while Gibler chips-in 12.5 per contest. The duo also combine to grab 12.8 rebounds a night.
The last time Detroit earned the three seed in the league tournament, the Titans raced all the way to the championship game before falling by a point at Milwaukee in 2005. Historically, the three seed has performed well in the tournament, advancing to the championship game 15 times (since 1979-80) and winning the whole business six times (last time: Cleveland State in 2009).
Sophomore Ray McCallum was named to the All-Horizon League First Team and senior Eli Holman was named the Sixth Man of the Year when the league announced its postseason awards Monday. The sophomore leads the team in points, assists and steals for the second straight season. McCallum becomes the 16th Detroit first team honoree and first since current NBA'er Willie Green was the Player of the Year in 2002-03. Holman has played in 21 games, 19 off-the-bench as Detroit's key bench member. He is averaging 11 points and seven rebounds per game and has three double-doubles to give him 27 for his career. Holman became the first Titan to win the top reserve, an honor that has been awarded since the 2007-08 season.
Detroit’s 10-3 mark in League play after Jan. 6 is the second-best in the Horizon League, trailing Valparaiso by a half game.
At the Beeghly Center, Youngstown State (15-14, 10-8 Horizon) welcomes Green Bay (15-14, 10-8 Horizon) in the 6-7 game.
The hottest team in the Horizon League, having won five straight contests, Green Bay has openly said that its 77-47 loss at Youngstown State served as a turning point to the year. Since that day in Ohio, Green Bay has won eight of its last 10 games, including a 71-65 victory over Youngstown State on Feb. 14 to begin its current five-game winning streak.
Green Bay's run has mirrored a similarly impressive streak by freshman point guard Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.). In the 10 games since the loss at YSU, Sykes has scored in double figures all 10 times while averaging 15.7 points and 5.8 assists per game.
In Green Bay's sweep of Chicago last weekend, Sykes averaged 20 points and seven assists. The Chciago native scored a career-high 27 points and added six assists in a 71-63 win at UIC last Saturday and earned Horizon League co-Player of the Week on Monday.
The Phoenix and the Penguins split a pair of games this season, with Brennan Cougill averaging 13 points and 12.5 rebounds in the two contests. Youngstown State shot 47.5 percent (19-40) from three in the games. YSU junior guard Blake Allen averaged a team-high 19.5 points.
Alec Brown earned a spot on the All-Horizon League First Team after a stellar regular season. The versatile Phoenix big man was impressive on both ends of the floor, ranking in the top-10 in the league in points (6th), rebounding (2nd), blocked shots (2nd) and free-throw percentage (6th). He was a second-team selection in the preseason
Brown was joined on the team by YSU’s Kendrick Perry, who became just the fifth player in League history to pace the conference in both scoring and steals in Horizon League play.
The Penguins will look to counter Brown’s presence inside with junior Damian Eargle, who was named to the 2012 Horizon League All-Defensive Team. Eargle set the Horizon League all games and conference-games only single-season blocks record with 113 and 65, respectively. He also owns the Horizon League career blocks record in conference play with 122.
For the first time in school history, three players have made at least 50 3-pointers in the same season. Allen leads the team with 87 while senior Ashen Ward and Perry each have made 51. DuShawn Brooks is nearing the mark and has made 43 this season.
YSU has the best one-year improvement (8-win improvement) since the Horizon League went to 10 teams. Cleveland State had a nine-win improvement when the HL had just nine teams.
Butler (18-13, 11-7 Horizon) will host a first round Horizon League Tournament game for the first time since 2004 when it faces Wright State (13-18, 7-11 Horizon) on Tuesday.
Carrying a 12-game winning streak in March games, the Bulldogs’ seed is their lowest since 2005. Wright State finished eighth in the final league standings and earned the No. 8 seed, the Raiders’ lowest since 2003. Butler and Wright State met in the league tournament championship game as the top two seeds just two years ago. The Bulldogs swept both regular season meetings with Wright State, winning in Dayton, 63-62, and then capturing a 64-53 decision at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
For Butler, balance has been a key throughout the year. Butler has had three players score in double-figures in each of its last nine games and four players notch twin-digits in each of its last three home games. Four different players have led the Bulldogs in scoring in the past four games, and nine different players have led the Bulldogs in scoring in a game this season.
At Valparaiso, it was Khyle Marshall leading the way with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and 5-of-8 from the free throw line. It was his highest point total since early December, when he totaled 21 points in a reserve role at Ball State. Marshall, who is Butler’s second-leading scorer on the season, has had double-digit scoring totals in four of five games since returning from a concussion that sidelined him for two contests earlier this month.
Senior Ronald Nored is within striking distance of two Butler assists marks, boosting his career total for assists to 468 and moving to within three assists of Tim Bowen (1989-93) in second place on Butler’s all-time assist chart after an eight-assist effort at Valpo. Nored also moved into the No. 3 spot on Butler’s single season assist chart with 164 assists this year, four shy of Bowen (1990-91) in the No. 2 position.
On the opposite end of the court, Nored will lead Butler’s defense as the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year, Julius Mays. While Nored may not check Mays, his defense at the top of Butler’s sets helped the senior become the first two-time Defensive Player of the Year in the Horizon League.
Mays took home newcomer honors after averaging 15.2 ppg in his first season with Wright State. The Marion, Ind.-native averaged 14.2 points and 2.9 rebounds as he played in 29 games this season, shooting 43% from the field, 84% from the free throw line and connecting on 48 three-pointers. He also led the team in steals (41) and assists (72). His career-high 33 points versus UIC on January 25 was also the season high by any Horizon League player this season. In that game, he connected on 19 free throws, setting a new school record and tying the League mark.
After a three-month layoff, UIC (8-21, 3-15 Horizon) will meet Milwaukee (19-12, 11-7 Horizon) for the second time in a week on Tuesday.
UWM enters the postseason riding a four-game winning streak, including a pair of wins in Chicago this past weekend. The Panthers hadn't won four-straight since early December and haven't won five-straight all season.
The Panthers and Flames will be playing for the second time in six days. Thursday night in Chicago, the Panthers captured a 72-61 win. Milwaukee overcame a three-point halftime deficit by outscoring the Flames, 43-29, in the second 20 minutes.
Hitting 14 three-pointers in the win, Milwaukee knocked down 11 more in Saturday’s win at Loyola; senior Tony Meier seems to have found his shooting touch over the last six games, making 22-of-37 from three-point range while averaging just over 15 points per game in that span. His performance this past weekend earned him Horizon League co-Player of the Week honors. As a team, Milwaukee has made 70 three-pointers in its last seven games, including 25 in its two wins this past weekend.
While Flames dropped the two regular season meetings with the Panthers, neither game was a breeze for Milwaukee. In the first game on Dec. 3, the Panthers led by 11 points with under five minutes to play in regulation but made just 2-of-11 foul shots in the final minutes as the Flames rallied to force overtime. In the extra session, Paris Gulley made a three-pointer with just under a minute to play to put Milwaukee up 69-65. UWM followed by making 4-of-6 from the line while seeing Gary Talton miss a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer.
UIC will turn to its backcourt of Gary Talton and Daniel Barnes, who rank in the top-20 scorers in the League, with Talton putting up 11.7 ppg and Barnes 10.6. Talton earned All-Newcomer honors after leading the Horizon League in free throw percentage (.864), and placing sixth in assists (3.3 apg).
The Flames’ front court will be key as well, as center Darrin Williams ranks eighth in the League in rebounding (6.2 rpg), fourth in blocks (1.5 bpg) and fifth overall in field goal percentage (.544).Forward Hayden Humes ranks sixth in the League in three-point field goal percentage (.419).