Thursday, March 2, 2017

Horizon League conference tournament

This is part 12 of a 32-part series previewing every conference tournament in the country.  We'll detail what you need to keep track of in each tournament and the various stakes for each team.

The standings:
Oakland 14-4
Valparaiso 14-4
Green Bay 12-6
Northern Kentucky 12-6
Wright St 11-7
Illinois-Chicago 7-11
Detroit 6-12
Cleveland St 5-13
Youngstown St 5-13
Milwaukee 4-14

Tournament format:
Friday March 3 to Tuesday March 7.  Yeah, a 5-day tournament.  Quarterfinals last both Saturday and Sunday.  Sigh.  It's at a neutral site in Detroit.

The matchups:
1) Oakland vs. 8/9) Cleveland St/Youngstown St
4) Northern Kentucky vs. 5) Wright St
3) Green Bay vs. 6) Illinois-Chicago
2) Valparaiso vs. 7/10) Detroit/Milwaukee

The stakes:
First, let's briefly touch on Valpo and Alec Peters, the best player in the conference, just now out for the season.  If Valpo wins this tournament, they're going to get punished in seeding for losing Peters.  Probably down to the 15 line, by my best estimation.  You can throw almost their entire resume out the window.  Their top 50 win over URI, out.  Wins over Bama and BYU, out.  Their loss to NKU late, counts.  Not good for Valpo.  Oakland ran them down to take the 1 seed, so Valpo has lost their NIT bid because of the Peters injury.  This is a harsh take, but that doesn't mean it's true.  Sorry Valpo.

Horizon was RPI 17, not great.  Oakland sits right at RPI 100, and is really going to have a tough time getting better than a 14 seed.  Poor non-con SoS, modestly helped by a win over Georgia.  Could be a 13 if they get enough upsets elsewhere.  Everyone else is down in 15 seed range.  Horizon League is down a little bit compared to most years.  A few teams with decent RPIs, but they usually hope for more Top 100 teams most years.  Also, that Valpo/Peters thing is a legitimate buzzkill.

There's a pretty clear top half/bottom half in the league...and I'd expect all in the top 5 to have the CBI/CIT come calling in the worst-case scenario.

Man, Valpo.  That's a bummer.  Would win this tourney and be a 13 seed (maybe even 12!) with Peters....15 seed without.  But Oakland might win this tournament anyways.

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