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Horizon League Notebook

February 5, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Horizon League Notebook

by Brian Seymour

It was business as usual at the top of the Horizon League standings as the top four teams in the conference all won their conference games over the weekend.

The victories increased the obvious disparity between the cream of the crop in the league and the teams looking like the also-rans.

The hottest team in the conference is also the team which was the most inconsistent through the first half of the regular season — Detroit. The Titans also have the hottest player in the league in Willie Green. Green hung 74 points on Detroit’s two opponents last week and, not surprisingly, was named the Horizon’s Player of the Week.

The Titans (11-8 overall, 5-4 Horizon) picked up a huge road win over Illinois Chicago and followed that up with a convincing win over Western Kentucky, 86-65. Green scored 43 in the win over UIC and added 31 against the Hilltoppers.

With home-court advantage at stake in the opening rounds of the Horizon tournament, games amongst teams in the middle of the league standings should be hotly contested. Detroit has two very big road games coming up this week — at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and at Wisconsin-Green Bay. A split in those two games would probably be an acceptable result for the Titans.

Bracket buster matchups

The Horizon will have three teams competing in the inaugural Bracket Buster Saturday on Feb. 22, a made-for-TV event that will feature many of the top teams among the nation’s mid-major conferences. Also well represented are the Mid-American and Missouri Valley conferences.

Among the teams that could be most helped by the event is Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who could be on the NCAA Tournament bubble come March. The Panthers will travel to Southern Illinois at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN 2 in one of the marquee matchups of the day. The Salukis were a Sweet 16 team last year.

“Our league would like to think we deserve an at-large berth,” Pearl said. “We’ll get an opportunity to show that. Our kids really deserve this opportunity.”

A postseason bid would be the first for UWM since moving up to Division I.

Other games involving Horizon teams include Bowling Green at Illinois-Chicago in a 5 p.m. ET contest and Detroit at UC-Santa Barbara at 11 p.m. ET.

Notably absent among the Horizon teams on the slate is Butler, which chose to pick a non-conference game against Duke last week instead (a 80-60 loss to the Blue Devils). Despite the loss, playing the Blue Devils moved the Bulldogs up two spots in the RPI.

Bailey dishes it out for UIC

Milestones are falling fast by the wayside at Illinois-Chicago. Head coach Jimmy Collins picked up his 100th career win after a victory over UW-Green Bay on Saturday and Martell Bailey tied a career-high in the game with 13 assists.

Bailey moved to No. 1 in the country in assists after the performance with 8.7 per game.

Martell gives you everything you need out of a point guard,” Collins said. “He is aggressive, quick, and knows where the open players on the court should be.”

Despite the loss to Detroit early in the week, the Flames (8-2) are hanging tough in the league standings, one game behind league-leader Butler (7-1).


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