With Valparaiso losing in overtime tonight to Green Bay, 81-80, the race for the top seeds in the Horizon League Tournament looks to be wide open heading into the final weekend. If Cleveland State takes care of business at home against Milwaukee and Green Bay the Vikings will host the conference tournament until they lose. That makes sense, because through the season they've been at the top or the top team in efficiency margin in the league.
The race for the bottom seeds is just as important as the top seeds, but with Loyola and UIC playing on the road and Youngstown State taking on the Phoenix and Panthers there probably won't be much of a shake up on that end.
Stay close to all the seed races with On the Horizon
. It's a great source of information throughout the season, but right now as the races heat up it's an even better use of your time. If you care about the Horizon League you should check out the aggregation going on there.
The numbers you need to know going into this weekend and a lot about individual awards are after the jump.
Team: Efficiency Margin - Ken Pomeroy's projected final record:
- Cleveland State: +0.11, 14-4
- Butler: +0.09, 13-5
- Valparaiso: +0.06, 13-5
- Wright State: +0.03, 11-7
- Milwaukee: +0.02, 12-6
- Detroit: +0.02, 9-9
- Green Bay: -0.01, 7-11
- Loyola: -0.03, 6-12
- UIC: -0.12, 2-16
- Youngstown State: -0.15, 3-15
Why the discrepancy in Milwaukee's record and efficiency margin? The Panthers have won a lot of close games this season. Two victories have come in overtime, there was a one-point victory over Wright State and a three-point win over Valparaiso just last week. The team has also improved though. The efficiency margi is held down by the early part of the conference season when the Panthers lost by 23 to Cleveland State and 24 to Wright State. I don't take the game against Buffalo in the Bracket Busters as a sign of anything. Milwaukee was probably preparing for the Vikings already.
Youngstown State is projected to finish with one more win than UIC because of home court advantage. The Penguins get to play at home for their final two games while the Flames play their last content on the road at Valparaiso.
- Best Offense: Butler - 1.112 points per possession
- Best Defense: Valparaiso - .996 points allowed per possession
- Fastest: Detroit - 70.9 possessions per game (but YSU is catching up!)
- Luckiest: Milwaukee - 2.1 wins head of pace
With the individual races also heating up here are the top five players in a couple of key tempo-free categories. Every player must have played at least 50% of their team's minutes to be included in the calculations. Thus it might change come the end of the weekend.
Offense Rating (at least 20% of possessions used):
- Matt Howard, Butler - 122.6
- Norris Cole, Cleveland State - 115.7
- Rahmon Fletcher, Green Bay - 111.6
- Vytas Sulskis, Youngstown State - 111.1
- Ray McCallum, Detroit - 109.8
Defensive Rebound Percentage:
- Eli Holman, Detroit - 23.5%
- Matt Howard, Butler - 20.8%
- Kaylon Williams, Milwaukee - 19.8%
- Paul Carter, UIC - 19.8%
- Damian Eargle, Youngstown State - 19.6
Offensive Rebound Percentage:
- Andy Polka, Loyola - 14.4%
- Eli Holman, Detroit - 14.1%
- Anthony Hill, Milwaukee - 12.1%
- Aaron Pogue, Cleveland State - 11.8%
- Matt Howard, Butler - 11.7%
- Daniel Turner, Green Bay - 11.7%
- Norris Cole, Cleveland State - 38.9
- Kaylon Williams, Milwaukee - 34.8
- Ray McCallum, Detroit - 29.9
- Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State - 27.8
- Shelvin Mack, Butler - 25.6
A lot of people are asking who should be on the all-conference team. Ironically, a name that doesn't come up on any of these lists, but just missed quite a few, Valparaiso's Brandon Wood, is one of the hot names. Personally, if I had to pick a team now it'd be:
- Norris Cole, Cleveland State
- Matt Howard, Butler
- Brandon Wood, Valparaiso
- Ray McCallum, Detroit
- Kaylon Williams, Milwaukee
Yes, I realize I just did some controversial things. For one, there are four guards are my proposed first team. For another, I put Williams, who some people don't even consider to be Milwaukee's best player, on the first team. When I watch the Panthers no person controls the floor like Williams does. His statistics back it up. He rebounds like a power forward and dishes assists like a point guard should. His one drawback is a few too many turnovers, but he's an excellent player that has been driving a team winning a number of close games.
Kaylon Williams deserves some love.