Horizon League Tournament Preview: Tickets, TV Schedule, Bracket, Favorite, and Top Contenders

The 2012 Horizon League Tournament tips off on Tuesday with four games taking place at Detroit, Milwaukee, Butler, and Youngstown State.

By virtue of winning the regular season title, Valparaiso will host the remainder of the tournament provided they make it to the Finals.  The Crusaders finished two games ahead of second-place Cleveland State, but teams two through seven were separated by just two games in the standings, which should make for a competitive and entertaining tournament.

As I will do for a number of the upcoming conference tournaments in Championship Week, here’s a look at the tournament schedule, links for tickets, and a quick rundown of teams to watch and what to expect.

Horizon League Tournament Tickets and TV Schedule

horizon-league-tournament-dates-site-tv-tickets

2012 Horizon League Tournament Bracket and TV Schedule

Game Date Matchup Time TV
1 Tue, Feb 28 #3 Detroit def #10 Loyola 80-71 7:00 ET HorizonLeague.org
2 Tue, Feb 28 #6 Youngstown State def #7 Green Bay 77-60 7:00 ET HorizonLeague.org
3 Tue, Feb 28 #4 Milwaukee def #9 UIC 68-55 8:00 ET HorizonLeague.org
4 Tue, Feb 28 #5 Butler def #8 Wright State 70-52 7:00 ET HorizonLeague.org
         
5 Fri, March 2 #3 Detroit def #6 Youngstown State 93-76 6:00 ET HorizonLeague.org
6 Fri, March 4 #5 Butler def #4 Milwaukee 71-49 8:30 ET HorizonLeague.org
    * - Games to be played at Athletics-Recreation Center on Valparaiso campus.    
         
7 Sat, March 3 #3 Detroit def #2 Cleveland State 63-58 6:00 ET ESPNU
8 Sat, March 3 #1 Valparaiso def #5 Butler 65-46 8:30 ET ESPNU
    * - Games to be played at Athletics-Recreation Center on Valparaiso campus.    
         
9 Tue, March 6 Horizon League Tournament Championship Game: #3 Detroit v #1 Valparaiso 9:00 ET ESPN
    * - Game played at home venue of highest remaining seed.    

Click to view Horizon League Tournament bracket.

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Horizon League Tournament Preview

The Favorite

Valparaiso

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Valparaiso head coach Bryce Drew

The Crusaders won 11 of their last 13 league games to claim the championship, and they are the lone team to beat every other squad in the league at least once.

First-year coach and local hero Bryce Drew boasts two of the Horizon League’s top players in Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk.  Broekhoff averaged 14.8 points and 8.4 rebounds and posted 11 double-doubles on the season.  The Australian native also knocked down nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc.  Van Wijk logged just 23.8 minutes per game but managed to score 14.4 points and grabbed 4.9 boards.  Injuries forced him to miss time late in the season, but he scored 18 points in the finale against Butler and should be at full strength for the tournament.

The top seed in this tournament has a couple huge advantages with a bye to the Semifinals and the opportunity to host the event.  That’s particularly good news for Valpo since they have just two home losses this season, with the last one coming in late December.

The Crusaders have a number of contributors on offense and boasted the top effective field goal percentage in league play.  Throw in a serviceable defense and the homecourt advantage, and Bryce Drew has a terrific chance to get back to the Big Dance.

Other Top Contenders

Cleveland State

After a 10-2 start in league play, the Vikings appeared to be in the driver’s seat, but they dropped four straight games to fall off the pace.  That losing streak corresponded directly to the loss of senior guard D’Aundray Brown to a groin injury, but CSU did rally to win games against Detroit and Wright State to close out the regular season and earn the two seed.  That was critical, because the bye to the Semifinals allows Brown additional time to heal.  At this point, he is expected to suit up for the Vikings.

If Brown is healthy, he teams with seniors Trey Harmon and Jeremy Montgomery to form a talented backcourt trio that helped CSU lead the conference in offensive efficiency.  They have struggled with turnovers, but they can knock down three-pointers and have been effective on the offensive glass.  The Vikings are also solid on the defensive end and have excelled at forcing turnovers.  Outside of freshman Anton Grady, this is a veteran team who could definitely make some noise so long as Brown is healthy.

Detroit

The Titans certainly aren’t short on talent, but they have struggled with consistency and are essentially a wild card coming into this tournament.  They won eight of their last 10 league games but were swept by Valparaiso and Cleveland State this year.  Five Detroit players score at least nine points per game, led by point guard Ray McCallum Jr., who contributes 15.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.9 assists.  He isn’t a proficient long-range shooter, but he excels at taking the ball to the basket and drawing fouls.  Big man Eli Holman gives the team a strong inside presence and leads a team ranked first in offensive rebounding percentage in league play.

Overall, the Titans ranked second in offensive efficiency, with three-point shooting their only glaring weakness.  However, they have struggled on the defense end, allowing opponents to hit over 41 percent from beyond the arc in conference games.  Based on sheer ability, Detroit is a contender to win the tournament, but they have to pull it together for four games whereas Valpo and Cleveland State only have to win twice.

Sleeper

Butler

It seems odd to list the Bulldogs as a sleeper, but they finished just 11-7 on the season and lost by 12 at Valparaiso to close out the regular season.  Still, Butler had won five games heading into that matchup, and it’s impossible to count them out after the last two post-seasons.  They have struggled with their shooting throughout the season, but their defensive efficiency was tops in league play, which should keep them in virtually every game.  The Bulldogs need big man Andrew Smith to come up big in the tournament, and they know they can count on the leadership of Ronald Nored.

Prediction

I’m going with Valpo.

They have been the best, most consistent team in the Horizon League this year, and I think that will continue in the tournament. Plus, having all of the games on your own floor doesn’t hurt.

Horizon League Basketball Tournament Champions

Year Horizon League Tournament Champion Horizon League Regular Season Champion NCAA Tournament Teams, Seeds
1980 Loyola Oral Roberts N/A
1981 Xavier Oklahoma City N/A
1982 Evansville Evansville Evansville (10)
1983 Loyola Xavier Xavier (12)
1984 Oral Roberts Oral Roberts Oral Roberts (11)
1985 Loyola Loyola Loyola (4)
1986 Xavier Xavier Xavier (12)
1987 Evansville & Loyola Xavier Xavier (13)
1988 Xavier Xavier Xavier (11)
1989 Evansville Xavier Evansville (11), Xavier (14)
1990 Xavier Dayton Xavier (6), Dayton (12)
1991 Xavier Xavier Xavier (14)
1992 Evansville Evansville Evansville (8)
1993 Evansville & Xavier Evansville Xavier (9), Xavier (14)
1994 Xavier Detroit N/A
1995 Xavier Wisc-GB Wisc-GB (11), Xavier
1996 Wisc-GB Northern Illinois Wisc-GB (8), Northern Illinois (14)
1997 Butler Butler Butler (14)
1998 Detroit, UIC Butler UIC (9), Detroit (10), Butler (13)
1999 Detroit Detroit Detroit (12)
2000 Butler Butler Butler (12)
2001 Butler Butler Butler (10)
2002 Butler UIC UIC (15)
2003 Butler Milwaukee Butler (12), Milwaukee (12)
2004 Milwaukee UIC UIC (13)
2005 Milwaukee Milwaukee Milwaukee (12)
2006 Milwaukee Milwaukee Milwaukee (11)
2007 Butler & Wright State Wright State Butler (5), Wright State (14)
2008 Butler Butler Butler (7)
2009 Butler Cleveland State Butler (9), Cleveland State (13)
2010 Butler Butler Butler (5)
2011 Butler Milwaukee Butler

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Follow me on Twitter (@andybottoms) for more thoughts on college hoops, and check out the latest edition of the Bottoms Line podcast.



About Andy Bottoms

While Andy was born and raised in Indiana, he would like to point out that he grew up shooting hoops in his driveway and not against the side of a barn like you see in all the March Madness promos or in the middle of a field like Jimmy Chitwood. Andy ranks among the top bracketologists according to the Bracket Matrix and has provided his projections to Fox Sports for the past three seasons. When not compiling excuses for missing work during the NCAA Tournament, Andy enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He is a proud IU graduate and co-hosts The Assembly Call postgame show following every IU game. Twitter: @AndyBottoms

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