Tempo-free Horizon League: Get ready for Game 18

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It was another crazy Thursday night in the Horizon League and it's done a number on the league standing. Milwaukee went to Cleveland State and won a close one and Loyola went to Valparaiso and crushed the Crusaders. The actual order of the Horizon League teams hasn't changed since the last post, but I wanted to give some updates and probabilities about this weekend's game.

Also, the Horizon League is like the anti-Big Ten. While a number of that conference's teams are struggling down the stretch it seems like the middle of the league has come on strong at the end. 7 of the 10 teams have a positive efficiency margin in conference. Loyola is in 8th place with an efficiency margin of just -0.01 points per possession.
The round robin has also taken a little bit of the "luck" factor away from all but one team. The team beating expectations by the largest margin? The Panthers. I've spent so much ink on Milwaukee over the past that I encourage you to check out past posts in this series, but suffice it to say, they're the only team even more than .5 games ahead of their projected pace.

Team: Efficiency Margin, Luck

  1. Cleveland State: +0.10, -0.77 wins
  2. Butler: +0.09, -0.47 wins
  3. Valparaiso: +0.04, +0.43 wins
  4. Wright State: +0.03, -0.01 wins
  5. Milwaukee: +0.02, +2.48 wins
  6. Detroit: +0.02, -0.39 wins
  7. Green Bay: +0.00, -0.33 wins
  8. Loyola: (-0.01), -1.11 wins
  9. UIC: (-0.12), -1.33 wins
  10. Youngstown State: (-0.15), -0.66 wins
Milwaukee, thanks to a great stretch of games, now has a chance to capture first place in the league on Saturday at Youngstown State. The Panthers have won their past 8 games in league play. During that stretch they've posted an efficiency margin of +0.9, which is an excellent mark.
Win Probabilities for that all important 18th game:
  • Wright State - 70.3%
  • Milwaukee - 54.3%
  • Cleveland State - 69.7%
  • Butler - 64.6%
  • Valparaiso - 82.8%
Butler fans that are holding out hope for a Milwaukee loss against Youngstown State aren't holding onto some unbelievable fallacy. A 54.3% chance isn't that great. Of course, this is using full season statistics, so the Panthers' chances are probably a bit higher than this represents.
The Bulldogs' game against Loyola won't be easier either. The two teams played a 65-63 slugfest to start the season at the Gentile Center, and there's nothing here that suggests it won't be the same at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Loyola and Butler have some really impressive offenses in league play, so even if the game is played at a really slow pace - entirely possible - the score won't be kept down.
It should be a thrilling day Saturday!

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