Thursday, December 4, 2008

2008 HL Championship Re-Match...TONIGHT!

Since Adam is "on assignment" today...I'll try to answer this.

Anonymous writes:
With such a young Butler team going against a more experience Cleveland State team that made it to the tournament finals last year, I'm wondering how important you guys think the regular season is this year? I mean, home court in the tourney could be huge, but even if the very young Bulldogs win the conference regular season, I wonder how they'll hold up in the tourney against a CSU team knowing that this is their last shot? Assuming no Horizon team gets an at large this year, as big as this early season BU-CSU clash is, I suspect it will all come down to the tournament and who is playing best then. Thoughts?

I think the regular season is EXTREMELY important in the Horizon League every year, because of the HL Tournament format. Ask any coach if they'd rather have to win 2 games 4 days to go to the NCAA tournament...or would they rather have to win 3 games in 5 days, or even 4 games in 7 days to get to the Big Dance? Finishing in the top 2 of the HL in the regular season is crucial, and a huge advantage.

As it relates to this year...well, tonight's game between CSU and Butler may give us a clue as to who's really ready for prime time. CSU had chances to make statements against Washington or Kansas State, but couldn't. Butler, whom many thought would slide back a little this year, has mowed down everyone in front of them...while starting 3 freshmen and not having a single senior on the roster.

The scenario you posed with the "young Bulldogs" winning the regular season and potentially having to face the "back-against-the-wall Vikings" once again in the Horizon League Tournament is an interesting one. I'd argue, though, but by the time March rolls around...the Bulldogs won't be quite so young. They'll have an entire season's worth of experience under their belts. I'd suspect that Cleveland State would certainly have a sense of urgency, however, about breaking through and making it to the NCAA Tournament.

While thinking about at-large NCAA births are still way down the road...I can see scenarios where Cleveland State or Butler (if they run away with the HL regular season crown) may have an argument. CSU still has to play West Virginia and Syracuse. Butler still has games against Ohio State, Xavier, and it's possible.

As for tonight, the Vikings are on their home floor. CSU was tabbed as the team to beat in the Horizon League this year. CSU is more experienced than the "young" Butler squad they'll face tonight. If the Vikings can't win this one...I'll have some serious reservations about thinking of them as the favorite in the Horizon League.

EDIT: 2:53PM - From today's edition of "Good Morning Hoops Nation" on The Mid-Majority. Way to go Flames!
Illinois-Chicago 74, at Vanderbilt 55 -- The Flames have a bonafide star in Josh Mayo, a rotation of bruising bigs (many with long names), a strong defense and a head coach in Jimmy Collins that is three parts wizened sage and one part Dolemite. So why aren't they taken seriously in the Horizon League this year? Probably their propensity to run themselves into dumb possessions. Last night in Nashville, Mayo got his 30, freshman Robert Kreps stepped forward for a career high 23, and UIC showed laser-sharp focus, dumping the SEC Commodores with a combination of muscle, ball control and skill. With a lost season in progress at Wright State and disappointments at Valpo, it may be time to put the Flames into that NCAA contender conversation with Cleveland State and Butler.


1 comment:

  1. "On assignment" could mean anything, but I'll give Adam the benefit of the doubt. The blog is looking good, fellas...