Two quick capsule boxes for the Horizon League Semifinals from U.S. Cellular Arena.
Cleveland State vs. Butler:
When: 5 p.m. CT
TV: ESPNU (tape delayed), ESPN3.com
What's at stake: With a win Butler might be able to make a claim for an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament even if they were to fall to Milwaukee or Valparaiso in the finals on Tuesday. On the other hand, Cleveland State is playing for its NCAA Tournament life. A hot start has been stifled by conference losses and 0 good wins.
What you need to know: Butler beat Cleveland State twice this season, 79-56 in Indianpolis and 73-61 in Cleveland. The Bulldogs are also a slight favorite today according to Ken Pomeroy (57%). According to regular season conference efficiency margins the Vikings are a 52% favorite. Cleveland State's Norris Cole and Butler's Matt Howard are generally regarded as the two best players in the conference.
Valparaiso at Milwaukee:
When: 7:30 p.m. CT
What's at stake: Neither of these teams has any shot at getting an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, but both are definitely NIT caliber squads. Milwaukee has an auto-bid if they can't finish off the conference tournament on their home court, but the Panthers have played well at home and swept the back nine of the conference season. Both teams want to play in the NCAA Tournament and if they could get in could definitely be a spoiler.
What you need know: How will the layoff affect Rob Jeter's squad? No one really knows. On the other side, Valparaiso is banged up. Erik Buggs practiced this morning and is ready to go after getting hurt last night. Howard Little is also banged up and played limited minutes with decreased effectiveness against Detroit in the 2nd Round. Still, as Brandon Wood showed, he can make a big impact when he gets in the zone. The Panthers are a 56% favorite according to Ken Pomeroy. My numbers flip that and give Valparaiso the 56% advantage tonight even with Milwaukee's home court advantage.
Considering the numbers don't know who to favor we should have to really good games on our hands tonight! Games start in about 10 minutes!