Valparaiso can secure its third NCAA Tournament bid in the past four years by winning the Horizon League tournament. To get there, the Crusaders will have to hold off a hard-charging Oakland team that has won 10 of its last 12 games.
The Golden Grizzlies haven't just been winning — they've been dominant. Nine of those 10 aforementioned victories came by double-digits behind the explosive scoring of pint-sized point guard Kay Felder. Felder, a junior, has averaged 24.4 points and 9.4 assists per game this season while leading his team to its first winning record since 2012. Another string of performances like his recent 26-point, 16-assist shredding of Detroit could send the Grizzlies dancing for the first time in five years.
However, beating Valpo is no small task. Oakland coach Greg Kampe is 0-2 against the league's old guard in 2016. The Crusaders have stood head and shoulders above the rest of the Horizon, and a 26-5 regular season record will put them in consideration for an at-large bid should things take a turn for the worse in the postseason. They'll rely on sharpshooting big man Alec Peters (17.5 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game, 45.8 three-point field goal percentage) to carry them to a relaxing evening on Selection Sunday.
The 10-team Horizon League Men's Basketball Championship favors its top two seeds in a big way. No. 1 Valparaiso and No. 2 Oakland will have two days off as the remaining eight teams whittle themselves down to a pair of worthy opponents for the league's semifinals. Winning the league title from a top seed requires only two victories; everyone else will have to win four straight games to go dancing.
3. Wright State
4. Green Bay
7. Youngstown State
8. Northern Kentucky
9. Cleveland State
You can see the full bracket here.
Schedule and Results (all times Eastern)
Saturday, March 5 (First Round)
Game 1: No. 4 Green Bay 65, No. 9 Cleveland State 53
Game 2: No. 5 Milwaukee 86, No. 8 Northern Kentucky 69
Game 3: No. 3 Wright State 74, No. 10 Illinois-Chicago 43
Game 4: No. 6 Detroit 92, No. 7 Youngstown State 79
Sunday, March 6 (Second Round)
Game 5: No. 4 Green Bay 70, No. 5 Milwaukee 61
Game 6: No. 3 Wright State 82, No. 6 Detroit 72
Monday, March 7 (Semifinals)
Game 7: No. 4 Green Bay 99, No. 1 Valparaiso 92 (OT)
Game 8: No. 3 Wright State 59, No. 2 Oakland 55
Tuesday, March 8 (Championship)
Game 9: Winner, No. 4 Green Bay 78, No. 3 Wright State 69