Illinois-Chicago (17-14) vs. Green Bay (17-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 8, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) -- Valparaiso, Indiana. Television: HLN. Home Record: UIC 11-4, UWGB 11-3. Away Record: UIC 4-9, UWGB 4-10. Neutral Record: UIC 2-1, UWGB 2-1. Conference Record: UIC 7-9, UWGB 10-6. Series Record: Green Bay leads, 50-36.
GAME NOTES: Second-round action in the 2013 Horizon League Tournament takes place on Friday night, as the fifth-seeded Illinois-Chicago Flames battle the fourth-seeded Green Bay Phoenix at the ARC in Valparaiso, Indiana.
The winner will tangle with No. 1 seed Valparaiso in the semifinals on Saturday.
Both teams come in sporting identical 17-14 records, and both were in action in the first round on Tuesday, with UIC knocking off eighth-seeded Cleveland State, 82-59, and Green Bay dismissing ninth-seeded Milwaukee, 62-46.
The Flames are 17-16 all-time in this event, and they have a pair of tournament titles to their credit, the last of which was won in 2004. UIC has won two of its last three games, that coming on the heels of a stretch in which it lost four of five.
The Phoenix improved to 14-17 all-time in the tournament following their first-round victory, and they are trying to win only their second title in this event, the first coming back in 1995. Green Bay is 6-3 since the start of February, and has won two of its last three entering this contest.
These two teams split a pair of meetings during the regular season, with each winning on its home floor. As it stands, the all-time series favors the Phoenix, 50-36.
Josh Crittle scored 20 points, and he was joined in double figures by four others, as Illinois-Chicago had very little trouble disposing of Cleveland State in the opening round of the Horizon League Tournament. The Flames shot 49.1 percent from the field, knocking down 8-of-17 3-point attempts along the way, and they converted 20-of-26 free throws. A resounding 45-32 rebounding advantage certainly helped matters, as did the fact that the Vikings were held to 31.7 percent field goal efficiency and that UIC's reserves outscored CSU's by 24-6 margin. Daniel Barnes, the HL's top long-range shooter with 72 treys this season, finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, Gary Talton tallied 11 points and five assists, and Hayden Humes and Marc Brown chipped in with 10 points apiece for a team that scored 20 points above its season average (62.6 ppg). Crittle (10.2 ppg) doubled his scoring average, while Talton (12.5 ppg, 4.3 apg) was nearly on point with what he has done all season long as he leads the team in both scoring and assists.
Alec Brown hit for 18 points, Keifer Sykes had 16 and Jordan Fouse logged a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, all of which were instrumental in getting Green Bay past Milwaukee in the first round of this event earlier in the week. Neither team shot very well, in fact both were pretty bad, as the Phoenix made good on only 33.9 percent of their total shots, while the Panthers connected on a paltry 26.5 percent of theirs. Green Bay did post a 47-35 edge on the glass, and used positive differentials in points off turnovers (17-6), in the paint (22-16) and on the break (7-0). Sykes and Brown are both averaging in excess of 13 ppg as the only two players turning in double figures for the Phoenix this season, the team as a whole laying claim to favorable, albeit narrow, margins in both scoring and rebounding en route to record that has them three games over .500 at the moment.
These two teams are pretty even in terms of overall talent, but expect Green Bay to survive thanks to another solid effort from the duo of Sykes and Brown.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Green Bay 64, Illinois-Chicago 60
03/08 10:33:46 ET