Wright State (19-13) vs. Cleveland State (21-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 8, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Resch Center (9,729) -- Green Bay, Wisconsin. Television: CSN-CHI. Home Record: WSU 13-2, CSU 12-3. Away Record: WSU 4-11, CSU 9-7. Neutral Record: WSU 2-0, CSU 0-0. Conference Record: WSU 10-6, CSU 12-4. Series Record: Cleveland State leads, 31-30.
GAME NOTES: The Horizon League Tournament soldiers on to the semifinals on Saturday night at the Resch Center, as the second-seeded Cleveland State Vikings take on the third-seeded Wright State Raiders.
The winner will advance to the championship game on Sunday to take on either Green Bay or Milwaukee.
Wright State earned the No. 3 seed by winning four straight games to close out the regular season, and that momentum carried over into its quarterfinal-round matchup with Oakland, as it claimed an easy 73-57 triumph to improve to 19-13 overall.
Cleveland State earned a crucial double bye into the semifinals of this event by finishing 12-4 in the league, two games up on Wright State for second place, yet two games behind first-place Green Bay (14-2). The Vikings closed out the regular season with wins in three straight and 10 of 11 to surge to 21-10 overall, most recently winning at Valparaiso last Saturday, 63-52.
The teams split the regular-season series, with each side winning on the road. Cleveland State won the most recent bout on Feb. 8 to snap a tie in the all- time series and take a 31-30 lead.
The Raiders never trailed in their opening game of the tournament, as they held a modest five-point lead the half over Oakland only to improve after halftime on their way to the 16-point victory. They shot a stellar 53.5 percent from the field, including 9-of-19 from 3-point range, while allowing the Golden Grizzlies to make only 40.9 percent of their tries from the floor. Miles Dixon shot 6-of-10 from the field and 6-of-7 at the foul line for 20 points to go with six rebounds and four assists, while Matt Vest chipped in 11 points on 3-of-5 from 3-point range.
Although Wright State shoots greater than 45 percent from the field this season, that production has only resulted in 67.5 ppg, but luckily it has been carried by an outstanding defense, which yields just 62.2 ppg. The only player to average in double figures is AJ Pacher with 10.8 ppg on just shy of 60 percent shooting, although Jerran Young, Dixon, JT Yoho and Cole Darling all pour in between 8.2 and 8.6 ppg.
The Vikings opened up a three-point halftime lead in their most recent contest and never surrendered that advantage down the stretch, pulling away from Valpo by as many as 18 before it was said and done. They shot a solid 45.8 percent from the field and came out ahead in both the rebounding (32-25) and turnover (18-13) battles. Trey Lewis and Marlin Mason netted 11 points apiece in the triumph, while Ludovic Ndaye tallied 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocks off the bench.
Cleveland State has performed very well on both ends of the court this season, as they shoot 47.3 percent from the field for 73.7 ppg while allowing just 66.33 ppg on 41.5 percent shooting, and it boasts an outstanding 3-point field goal percentage (.409) that ranks second-best in the nation behind only Creighton. Bryn Forbes pours in a team-high 15.7 ppg, while shooting 41.9 percent from beyond the arc and 82 percent at the foul line. Lewis brings 13.3 ppg and 3.4 apg to the mix, while Jon Harris (10.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Anton Grady (10.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg) are both solid in the paint.
In what figures to be an evenly-matched game, expect Cleveland State's fresh legs after the double bye to give it the slight advantage to advance to the championship game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cleveland State 68, Wright State 66
03/08 11:40:57 ET