The “Bracket” section has been updated.
For the first time since 2006, the top seed in the Horizon League Tournament isn’t the well-known, NCAA-mainstay Green Bay Phoenix. Instead, the Wright State Raiders took the top seed after winning their first-ever outright regular-season title behind a 16-win performance in league play — a school record.
After being picked to finish third in the normally Phoenix-dominated Horizon League this season, the Raiders sprinted to an 11-1 start in conference play. The Raiders’ first loss came to third-seeded Youngstown State on the road two weeks after dispatching Green Bay by 18 points at home. Wright State went on to split the season series with the Phoenix, dropping the away game for its second and final loss of the conference season.
Green Bay, seeking its 17th tournament title in 22 seasons, won’t go quietly. And a clash between the Phoenix and the Raiders is certainly what’s expected by the time the tournament final arrives. But neither Youngstown State nor fourth-seeded IUPUI should be counted out: The Penguins have beaten both of the top seeds this season, and the Jaguars took down Green Bay.
As far as NCAA Tournament mid-major upsets go, this tournament has produced a handful. But even if Green Bay isn’t the Horizon League representative this year, the tournament is worth watching to see if the Raiders can take down the Phoenix where they’ve shone brightest for so long.
When: Tuesday, March 5, and Wednesday, March 6); Monday, March 11, and Tuesday, March 12)
Where: Campus sites (quarterfinals); Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI (semifinals/final)
How to view: ESPN+ (quarterfinals/semifinals); ESPNU (final)
QUARTERFINALS (Campus sites)
The tournament’s opening game saw top-seeded Wright State wrap up a 12-0 home record against Horizon League teams this season. After a slow start that left them clinging to a two-point lead after the first quarter, the Raiders pulled way ahead in the middle two quarters to easily put away Oakland, 83-60.
In the day’s second quarterfinal, a back-and-forth matchup between IUPUI and Northern Kentucky ended emphatically as the Jaguars outscored the Norse by ten points in a one-sided fourth quarter en route to a 60-44 victory.
No. 8 Oakland Golden Grizzlies vs. No. 1 Wright State Raiders
Tuesday, March 5, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
No. 5 Northern Kentucky Norse vs. No. 4 IUPUI Jaguars
Tuesday, March 5, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Wednesday’s action began with a near-upset as Youngstown State overcame a five-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Milwaukee, 64-58. Although the Penguins had four players in double figures, the Panthers’ 30 bench points kept them in a game that featured 12 ties and 12 lead changes.
Green Bay had an easier time with Cleveland State in the second quarterfinal of the day, running away with a 73-30 victory. After a 13-13 first quarter, the Phoenix ramped up their offensive and defensive efforts, shooting 51.8 percent for the game (including 47.6 percent from three) while holding the Vikings to 21.8 percent shooting.
No. 6 Milwaukee Panthers vs. No. 3 Youngstown State Penguins
Wednesday, March 6, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+
No. 7 Cleveland State Vikings vs. No. 2 Green Bay Phoenix
Wednesday, March 6, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN+
SEMIFINALS (Little Caesars Arena)
Both top seeds had some trouble getting past their opponents in Monday’s semifinals. Wright State led by 12 against IUPUI at halftime, nearly gave it all up in the third quarter and pulled away in the fourth for the 60-51 win. Green Bay and Youngstown State played a close game all the way through, with the Phoenix escaping with the 55-53 victory.
No. 1 Wright State Raiders vs. No. 4 IUPUI Jaguars
Monday, March 11, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN+
No. 3 Youngstown State Penguins vs. No. 2 Green Bay Phoenix
Monday, March 11, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
CHAMPIONSHIP (Little Caesars Arena)
In a close game from start to finish, Wright State got past Green Bay for the title, 55-52. The Phoenix suffered from cold shooting, periods where the Raiders capitalized to gain big leads. While Green Bay stayed in the game all the way through, Wright State’s consistency gave it the final edge.
No. 1 Wright State Raiders vs. No. 2 Green Bay Phoenix
Tuesday, March 12, 12 p.m. ET, ESPNU