The Horizon League Men’s Basketball Tournament is scheduled to take place in Detroit, Michigan at the Joe Louis Arena starting March 5th and concluding on March 8th. The tournament will feature nine games, starting with four on the fifth.
The Cleveland State Vikings (9-22, 4-14) have the ninth seed in the tournament, making it so that they are only ahead of UIC (5-24, 3-15). The Vikings are scheduled to take on fourth seeded Green Bay (19-12, 11-7) at 12:00 pm on the fifth.
Valparaiso (26-5, 16-12) clinched the number one seed for the fourth time in five seasons, and clinched a bye to the semifinals along with number two Oakland (21-10, 13-5). Number nine Northern Kentucky (9-20, 5-13) will go up against number five Milwaukee (19-12, 10-8), number ten UIC will take on number three Wright State (19-12, 13-5), and number seven Youngstown State (11-20, 6-12) will go head to head with number six Detroit (15-14, 9-9).
The Vikings will need nothing short of a miracle to make it past the first round. What was supposed to be a rebuilding season turned out to be worse than that, as the Vikings struggled to on both sides of the ball and were never able to put together a strong stretch of games.
Their opponent, the Green Bay Phoenix, took both of the teams’ two meetings this year. In January, Green Bay took down the Vikings 87-67, and just a week ago the Phoenix beat the Vikings 78-61. Both losses were not pretty for the Vikings.
What was encouraging for Vikings fans was the fact that CSU was up by one at halftime in the February 22nd meeting between the two teams. To go with that, the Vikings had four players in double figures, led by senior forward Vinny Zollo who had 13 points.
After the Vikings/Phoenix game concludes, Northern Kentucky and Milwaukee will tip off. That game is scheduled for 2:30 the same day. That game will be followed by UIC and Wright State at 5:00, and Youngstown State and Detroit at 7:30.
The winners will advance to the second round on Sunday. The winners there will advance to play either Valparaiso or Oakland on Monday. The championship game is scheduled for Tuesday night at 7:00.
Last year’s champions, the Valparaiso Crusaders, are well on their way to repeating, but have had a number of close games against top Horizon League teams. The Crusaders have had two-point victories against Green Bay and Oakland, and also have an overtime victory against Milwaukee. The Crusaders have also yet to beat Wright State on the season, dropping both contests, including an eleven-point defeat.
Oakland has dropped both games against Valparaiso, and has two stunning defeats against Northern Kentucky and Youngstown State.
The Vikings road to the championship is all but nonexistent, but the team should be able to build on its young talent going into next season. The Vikings are likely a few years away from seriously competing in the tournament, but Head Coach Gary Waters will have a foundation to build on for the years to come.
Matthew Johns covers Cleveland State sports for Forever Rebuilding. He is also the owner of MGJTalks.blogspot.com and you can follow him on Twitter @MGJTalks.