Cleveland State (14-17) at Illinois-Chicago (16-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 5, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UIC Pavilion (8,000) -- Chicago, Illinois. Television: HLN. Home Record: CSU 9-5, UIC 10-4. Away Record: CSU 3-12, UIC 4-9. Neutral Record: CSU 2-0, UIC 2-1. Conference Record: CSU 5-11, UIC 7-9. Series Record: Cleveland State leads, 41-32.
GAME NOTES: A couple of teams trying to rebound from defeats in their final regular-season games get together on Tuesday night at UIC Pavilion, as the Flames of Illinois-Chicago host the Cleveland State Vikings in the first round of the 34th annual Horizon League Tournament.
As the eighth seed in this year's event, Cleveland State isn't that far removed from having won their first and only Horizon League Tournament, beating Butler back in 2009 by a score of 57-54. But that seems like a lifetime ago for a Vikings squad that has beaten only one league opponent in the last month. Cleveland State closed out the regular season on Saturday with a lopsided 87-60 setback versus Loyola-Chicago on the road.
As for fifth-seeded UIC, it too has struggled down the stretch with just two victories in the last eight outings, one of those being a triple-overtime affair versus Youngstown State on Feb. 10.
The Flames enter the tourney with a record of 16-16 all-time in the event, winning a pair of championships in 2002 and 2004 versus Loyola-Chicago and Milwaukee, respectively, by a combined four points.
The Vikings lead the all-time series by a count of 41-32, taking the most recent meeting last month, 77-66, in this same building. Not only did CSU sweep the season series this year, the team has actually won a total of 12 straight decisions over the Flames dating back to the 2007-08 campaign.
This time around, the winner will be rewarded with a trip to the second round of the tournament on Friday to face off against the survivor of the Milwaukee/Green Bay contest.
Bryn Forbes made news for the Vikings this week by being named the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year, just the second player from CSU ever to earn the recognition, after leading all active scorers with 12.6 ppg. A starter in 17 of 31 games for Cleveland State, Forbes was first on the list when it came to hitting 3-point baskets, sinking a total of 61 on 154 attempts. The other double-digit scorer for the Vikings is Charlie Lee (11.4 ppg) who also showed a propensity for hitting the big shot from the perimeter, not to mention finding the opportunities to set up teammates with 149 assists. Joining Lee as the only players to start every game was Tim Kamczyc, accounting for another 8.1 ppg for a unit producing a pedestrian 64.3 ppg, but giving up 69.2 ppg.
On Monday, UIC's Gary Talton found out he was named an All-Horizon League Second Teamer as he led the Flames in scoring with 12.6 ppg, although he did shoot just 38.3 percent from the floor and 29.1 percent behind the 3-point line. Then again, Talton did lead the program in assists (128) and steals (46) and was one of the better rebounders on the squad as well with four per contest. Daniel Barnes shows up as the other double-digit scorer for the program with 12.0 ppg, leading the squad with 68 3-point baskets, but even though he was the primary perimeter threat, as a guard Daniels should still have recorded more than a mere 22 assists. Recognized as one of the top newcomers in the league, Josh Crittle (9.9 ppg) finished first on the unit with 5.3 rpg and even he had more assists (60) than Barnes.
The Vikings have been less-than-impressive on the road this season, but the squad still seems to have a stranglehold on UIC which could easily carry over into the postseason.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cleveland State 68, Illinois-Chicago 63
03/05 10:44:00 ET