Bracket Brief: Horizon League Tournament preview
Championship Week unofficially begins today with two conference tournaments: The Horizon League and the Big South. The Horizon League was one of the first mid-major conferences to tweak it's tournament bracket, thus rewarding regular season play. As such, the teams that play tonight (including Milwaukee and Green Bay) must win four games over the next week to get the automatic bid. The top two seeds (Valparaiso and Detroit) gets byes into the semifinals.
Green Bay comes into tonight having stumbled a bit with two losses in their last three games. That one win, however, came against Milwaukee on February 26. The winner of the Milwaukee-Green Bay game plays the winner of the UIC-Cleveland State game. The road will be difficult for any of the four teams as they are in the upper half of the bracket, meaning one of those teams must face Valpo. The Phoenix could've helped themselves with a win over the Crusaders in the regular season finale but instead they were drubbed at home by 19. Valparaiso is hot right now with seven wins in their last eight conference games. However the one loss came at home to Detroit on February 16 so nothing is guaranteed.
A few other things to consider as we plow through the final week of regular season play: Gonzaga, Indiana and Duke look like locks to be number one seeds. So who is the fourth? Kansas has surged to the top of the contenders thanks to a seven game winning streak. With a strong finish Georgetown might leap to the top line ahead of the Jayhawks. The Hoya have a tough road with Villanova and Syracuse left on the schedule.
The bubble appears to have popped for Charlotte, Baylor and Iowa, three teams with losing conference records. However, the race for the final few at-large spots is wide open with Villanova losing two in a row, Ole Miss losing to SEC cellar dweller Mississippi State and Arizona State dropping three straight. Three games tonight that help shape the bubble: Alabama-Ole Miss, Boise State-UNLV and Southern Miss-Marshall.