With only three games remaining until the Horizon League Tournament tips off in Detroit on March 2nd, the Green Bay Phoenix will play their final home game of the season Friday night at an unfamiliar venue.
At least for the opposition.
Friday’s game will be the first ever Horizon League men’s basketball game at the Kress Events Center on the UW-Green Bay campus and just the third ever regular season game. The Phoenix are 2-0 all-time in regular season games at the Kress, beating Minnesota-Duluth in 2010 and Northern Michigan in 2013.
Green Bay is able to practice whenever they like on the main Kress Center floor in addition to the adjoining Dick Bennett Gym where they normally practice. On the flip side, no Horizon League men’s team has likely ever been in the building for anything more than a walk-through before.
The familiarity with the building plus a sellout crowd – including at least 1,300 students – will no doubt create a massive home court advantage.
That will be important considering UIC is one of the hottest teams in the Horizon League currently, though they are coming off a bad home loss against Cleveland State on Saturday night. Prior to that loss the Flames had won 10 of their previous 11 games including 7 straight.
It’s an important game for UIC as they currently sit at 10-4 in conference play in third place behind Northern Kentucky (12-2) and Wright State (11-3) who play each other Friday night.
It is also an important game for Green Bay as they look to build momentum for the Horizon League Tournament in two weeks. The Phoenix currently sit in 8th place at 5-10 but are just a half game back from 6th place IUPUI. That is important because the bottom four seeds have to win four games in order to make the NCAA Tournament. Seeds 7 through 10 match up in what are basically play-in games in the opening round. The winner of those two games advance to take on the top two seeds of the tournament in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, seeds 3 through 6 play each other in the quarterfinals and would only have to win three games to win the championship, avoiding the top two seeds until the semifinals.
Green Bay has lost three straight games but nearly pulled off improbable road upsets last week at league-leading Northern Kentucky and at Wright State.
The Phoenix will look to continue trending in the right direction in front of a big crowd on a night when Khalil Small and David Jesperson will be playing their final home games and will be honored on senior night.
UIC has beaten Green Bay two times in a row – in last year’s conference tournament and earlier this season in Chicago – but has lost 13 straight games in Green Bay. The Flames last victory in Titletown was February 18, 2004.
Green Bay had won 10 straight games against the Flames and were 25-4 against UIC dating back to 2005 before the two recent losses.
The Krash the Kress tailgate begins at 6:00 PM with tipoff scheduled for 8:00 PM. There will be free parking available on the UWGB campus with a free shuttle taking fans to the Kress Center from the Weidner Center lot, Wood Hall lot, and Studio Arts lot.
More details are available on the Green Bay Phoenix website.
Categories: News and Notes