Horizon League 1st Round: Loyola Chicago 76 – Youngstown State 61
I listened to the first half (and couldn’t listen to the second – stupid WIND, stupid ILL) of yesterday’s game, but it wasn’t till today that I realized I once again failed to make picks for the tournament.
I think I would’ve taken Loyola (duh), Wright (oops – that was a bad week!), and Detroit for the first round matchups. Starting fresh from here (RPI in brackets for no good reason), and remembering I have no idea what I’m talking about:
Loyola Chicago (145) vs Detroit (171)
01/05: Detroit 73 – Loyola 67 @ Detroit
01/28: Loyola 68 – Detroit 63
Detroit is a historically scary defensive team and I don’t like this matchup. You’ll notice in the game Loyola lost, they allowed Detroit to shoot 63% in the second half – I suggest they don’t do that again. Loyola actually shot worse in the game they won. Loyola’s done pretty well created turnovers and getting steals in this matchups.
There’s not a lot separating these teams, so I’m just picking the team I like. YAY Analysis.
UIC (125) vs UWGB (187)
01/11 – UWGB 90 – UIC 84 (OT) @ Green Bay
01/28 – UIC 81 – UWGB 68 @ Chicago
I actually listened to part of that first game; UWGB was up a lot and should’ve cruised to a win, but UIC chipped away and go back into it. Which is an easy metaphor for their season. UWGB dug themselves a huge hole in the second game with bad first half shooting and couldn’t dig out. Three of UIC’s last 5 games have gone to OT, but they did manage to beat UWM (ending their at large hopes).
UWGB already has a game listed versus Butler for Saturday. You don’t really want to tempt fate like that.
UWGB’s Ryan Evanochko was hot in Game 1 (30 points), and UWGB won. He scored 8 in the second game (3-12 shooting), and they lost. I think that might be the key. I don’t feel any stronger about this matchup – we’re all 8-8 and mediocre here, but I trust UWGB a bit more.
Loyola (145) vs UWM (53) [in Milwaukee]
01/11: UWM 78 – Loyola 75 at Milwaukee
01/30: UWM 68 – Loyola 57 at Chicago
Second game was closer than the score indicated, but they blew it in the last two minutes. At that was at home; this is UWM home court.
If Loyola is here, they’re going for 20 wins and a chance at the post season; obviously a chance at the confrence, but beating UWM would probably be enough to be in the NIT discussion. UWM would also be 20 wins, and a loss here would doom them to NIT.
I want to believe. I’m so ready to believe. (I thought UWM was going to take a step back this year, that’s how willing I was.) But instead of spending 15 minutes trying to figure out how the Ramblers could possibly win (Schilb playing awesome, team shooting well in general), I’m just going to the quick.
They should be top 3 next season, I figure. I hope!
UWGB (187) vs Butler (91)
02/02 – Butler 72 – UWGB 66 (OT) in Indianapolis
02/13 – Butler 63 – UWGB 57 in Green Bay
All of Butler’s conference losses were on the road. This would technically be a neutral game, but UWGB’s closer (and the UWM fans would be against them.) They could’ve been tied with UWM, but lost their last game on a Detroit basket with 1.3 left.
Speaking of teams who were supposed to be down here, this is the kinda season that gets you Conference Player and Coach of The Year. Even the league preseason poll had them #5, and here they are, top 2 seed yet again.
If you like 3pts, this would be the game for you. The top seeds seem a notch above the 8-8 mess, so I’m going to stick with them for the finals.
UWM (53) vs Butler (91) in Milwaukee
01/07 – UWM 64 – Butler 59 in Milwaukee
02/04 – Butler 63 – UWM 60 (OT) in Indianapolis
UWM took the lead early in the first game, controlled it, Butler rallied back to take the lead around the ten minute mark of the second half, and UWM pulled back ahead just enough to keep it from being a one possession game at the end.
UWM went 0-13 from 3 in their loss. Butler hit a three with 2 seconds left to send it into OT. WM self destructed in the last 20 seconds of OT: down by only 1, Joah Tucker turned the ball over, Butler was fouled and made their shots, five seconds were left, and UWM failed to get a shot up.
Butler’s going to launch threes, UWM’s going to rebound and try to put them in foul trouble. Both teams are competitive if they play to their edges. Butler’s Brandon Polk (league POTY) is probably the key player here; he didn’t crack double digits in the loss, but shot 7-10 for 18 points in the win. He’s the balance Butler needs to have.
Butler went 5-8 on the road. UWM was 11-2 at home. I like Butler, but I think it’s hard to look pass those numbers. If anyone can take down UWM, it’s Butler, but I don’t believe they will.
Horizon League Winner: UWM
Headed to the NIT: Butler
close but no: Loyola