After last night's results it is official that the road to the Horizon League title won't go through Chicago. Loyola's loss to Valparaiso on Thursday night guarantees that the Ramblers won't be hosting a home game.
Loyola could've hosted a first round game at the Gentile Center if the Ramblers had won out and Detroit had finished with three straight losses. The Titans kept up their end of the bargain, but Loyola dropped an 84-73 decision to the Crusaders in Indiana last night.
UIC had long ago clinched a road game. The Flames are 2-14 in conference after losing by 18 at regular season conference champion Butler on Wednesday. An extended look at the Horizon League playoff seeding is after the jump.
The Horizon League standings currently look like this:
- Butler - 17-0 - Clinched double-bye and is one win away from a perfect conference record.
- Wright State - 11-5 - The league's second best team and can clinch a double-bye soon.
- Green Bay - 10-6 - Would play #10 Youngstown State
- Cleveland State - 9-6 - Would host #9 UIC (bad match-up for Flames)
- Valparaiso - 10-7 - Would host #8 Loyola (intriguing first round opponent for Loyola)
- Milwaukee - 7-8 - Still has two games in Chicago as well. Would host Detroit
- Detroit - 7-9 - Have a number of close losses, but fading down the stretch.
- Loyola - 5-11
- UIC - 2-14
- Youngstown State - 2-14
UIC is above Youngstown State in the standings even though they split the season series because the Flames' second victory is over Detroit while Youngstown State's is versus Loyola. Of course the Penguins or Flames could win a game during the final conference weekend and make this a moot point.
Personally, I'd rather play Green Bay at this point. Yes, the Phoenix play well at home, but Cleveland State is certainly the third best Horizon League team this season. Dodging them even for one round would be helpful to any team's tournament aspirations.
If Loyola was to go to Valparaiso the Ramblers would have to come out strong in the first half. Loyola lost last night because it dug itself too far into a hole and then had to try to come back against a high-scoring Valparaiso squad. (Oh, playing some defense would help too.) Matt Kenney lit Loyola up for 27 points. You can't contain Brandon Wood and then let his freshman counterpart light you up. It's nice to see Aric Van Weelden back on the court. With another two weeks to practice and get back into playing form before the tournament maybe Van Weelden will be able to make a big impact defensively for the Ramblers.