By Payton Havermann
The Wright State Raiders are a machine. The 25-6 Raiders are the best they’ve ever been under fourth-year head coach Scott Nagy, and they’re being led by junior center Loudon Love. Love was named Horizon League Player of the Year after averaging 16.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game and leading Wright State to their first outright regular season Horizon League title in the school’s history. Love’s success was critical for Wright State to finish with a 15-3 conference record and is going to be critical for Wright State to win the conference tournament.
The obvious team to watch for this tournament is Wright State, but the other team to watch is last year’s Horizon League Champions themselves. The Northern Kentucky Norse finished the year 21-9 and 13-5 in conference, and they are without a doubt the biggest threat to Wright State in the conference. The two met twice in conference play, with the first matchup being a 32 point loss on Wright State’s home court, but the second being a much closer 2 point loss in the last game of conference play. Northern Kentucky sits as the No. 2-seed in the conference and are the most likely team to knock off Wright State.
The biggest sleeper in this tournament is the No. 3-seed Green Bay Phoenix. Green Bay sits at a rather average 16-15 record, but are 11-7 in conference and have victories over both Northern Kentucky and Wright State. They’re very inconsistent, however, as they were one of just three conference victories for the last place IUPUI Jaguars, and also dropped a game to UW-Milwaukee. When at their best, Green Bay is good enough to take on both Northern Kentucky and Wright State, but the team is maddeningly inconsistent and may not threaten either team.
The tournament champions will likely be the Wright State Raiders, and they will likely play Northern Kentucky in the title game (who they’ve beaten twice already), and they boast both conference player and coach of the year. But, crazier things have happened in March. Perhaps UW-Milwaukee or Youngstown State get hot at the right time and steal the tournament bid. Still, the safe bet is for the Wright State Raiders of Dayton, Ohio to go dancing in March.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org