By most outside observers Butler is considered the most talented team in the Horizon League. According to the season conference standings Valparaiso is the best team in the league. But according to in conference efficiency margins neither is the leader right now. That title goes to the Cleveland State Vikings.
It's still pretty tight at the top though and any loss, like the Bulldogs' close one to Wright State
which was covered excellently by Victory Firelight
, have a real impact on the standings. The straight numbers are here and there's some more analysis after the jump.
Team - Efficiency Margin
- Cleveland State - +0.12
- Valparaiso - +0.10
- Butler - +0.09
- Wright State - +0.08
- Detroit - +0.06
- Green Bay - +0.03
- Milwaukee - (-0.02)
- Loyola - (-0.05)
- UIC - (-0.16)
- Youngstown State - (-0.19)
When I look at those numbers I see three tiers, with one nebulous Detroit team. There are the four top teams - Valparaiso, Wright State, Butler and Cleveland State - which are battling for the top seed in the conference tournament. Those three teams are locked into a tight race in the standings as well, with the Crusaders having a one-game lead thanks to their important road sweep of the Raiders and Titans.
Then there's Detroit. The Titans seem like they should be a good team, but they're faltering lately. An early season victory over travel partner Wright State looks to be anomaly instead of the rule.
And there are the middle of the pack teams. As Loyola's weekend in Wisconsin
showed, any of these can beat any of the others anywhere. Milwaukee, Green Bay and the Ramblers will be fighting it out for sixth place in the conference the rest of the season. Unfortunately, while the numbers think that Loyola has played alright, the ultimate decider - wins and losses - still have the Ramblers behind the 8-ball in the search for the sixth seed.
Then there's UIC and Youngstown State. The Flames are really going to miss Zavion Neely
a lot. The only win these two teams have is against each other as the Penguins took down the Flames at the Beeghly Center. At the end of the month the Flames will get a chance to avenge that loss at the Pavilion.
- Best Offense: Butler
- Worst Offense: Youngstown State
- Best Defense: Valparaiso
- Worst Defense: UIC
- Luckiest: Valparaiso (+0.69 wins)
- Unluckiest: Loyola (-0.88 wins)