The Horizon League is often a one-bid league but they sure have been successful pulling off upsets. Look no further than Butler's two straight trips to the NCAA Championship game for proof. This year isn't likely to have the same fairy tale ending but it will be interesting to see who draws the Horizon League rep in the first round of this year's tournament.
|Ronald Nored's free throw percentage (37%) should|
tell you all you need to know about Butler's chances
of getting back to the Final Four this year.
- Wisconsin-Milwaukee 13-6 (6-1) - The loss at Butler is understandable but the Jan 3 loss to Western Michigan means they'll have to win the conference tourney if they want to participate in March. Sunday's matchup with Cleveland St. is huge.
- Cleveland St. 15-4 (5-2) - Cleveland St. has the best chance of an at-large bid in the conference thanks to wins over Vanderbilt, Kent St., and Akron. Their loss at Youngstown St. really stings and may be the one that ends up costing them the regular season title.
- Valparaiso 12-7 (5-2) - Has it really been fourteen years since Bryce Drew hit a three at the buzzer to upset Ole Miss in the NCAA Tournament?* The home wins over Green Bay and Cleveland St. are nice but there are too many issues on defense to consider them the conference favorite.
- Butler 10-9 (4-3) - Right when I was starting to take them seriously they drop a must-win to Detroit and then lose at home to Cleveland St. There is no magic this year which makes me sad.
- Youngstown St. 9-8 (4-3) - The Penguins (great nickname) won three in a row to put themselves in first place but now have lost two straight. They're 5-1 at home this year.
- Detroit 9-11 (3-5) - Lost a squeaker to Valpo then upset Butler and won in Green Bay. They're playing better now than they have all season. This team will be a handful in the conference tournament.
- Wright St. 9-11 (4-4) - Nearly pulled an upset of Butler and then did upset Valpo only to lose their next two games in the state of Wisconsin. This team is so up and down I don't know which direction they're heading.
- Wisconsin-Green Bay 7-10 (3-5) - Green Bay's first two conference games came in the first week of December (they won both) but they didn't play their third until Dec 29. After losing four straight they managed to finally get back on the right track when they defeated Wright St. Saturday.
- Illinois-Chicago 6-11 (2-5) - Remember when UIC upset Illinois last year?
- Loyola 5-12 (0-7) - Last year Loyola was respectable though that now seems an aberration. This team is clearly the worst in the conference and the only game I can see them being favored in is their home match against UIC in February.
*Editor's note: People often forget Valpo also beat Florida St. in the next round to advance to the Sweet 16. Definitely one of the most unsuspecting Cinderellas ever.