The Green Bay Phoenix would be the #6 seed in the conference tournament if it started today according to a release from the Horizon League this week. The Phoenix would be hosting #11 seed IUPUI in a first round matchup while Cleveland State, Wright State, Oakland, and Milwaukee would each receive a bye into the quarterfinals.
Things are sure to change with three weekends of games still left to be played but the initial release shines some light on what fans can expect the final seeding to look like when the final bracket is released prior to the tournament which begins Thursday, February 25th. The conference decided to use a formula-based seeding method for the tournament this year instead of using the conference standings and tiebreakers as they would in a normal year.
“Due to the unbalanced nature of the Horizon League schedule because of COVID-19, this season the championship will be seeded utilizing a formula that considers four factors: League winning percentage, strength of schedule, weighting road wins vs. home wins and number of League games played,” the conference announced.
“The HL will provide weekly updates on seeding after each weekend’s games and will announce the final seeding for the championship after the end of the regular season on Saturday, Feb. 20.”
Per the league’s first release, here is a look at the current seeds if the tournament started today:
The first thing that jumps out is that seeds 1 through 3 as well as 11 and 12 seem to be expected and in-line with what we’d see in a normal season. The league has Milwaukee as the #4 seed currently despite Northern Kentucky having a slightly better win/loss record.
This is significant since the top four seeds will receive a bye to the quarterfinals and play that quarterfinal game at home with the semifinals and championship game being played in Indianapolis.
And while the conference hasn’t publicly stated what formula they are using to determine the seeds, they have placed an emphasis on four factors and this is apparently where those four factors start coming into play.
While the Panthers slightly trail NKU in win percentage, UWM has a better strength of schedule and a better record on the road despite playing one less game. It should be noted that Milwaukee has played bottom-dwelling IUPUI four times and has faced the league’s second easiest schedule so far with only NKU playing an easier schedule according to KenPom.
Green Bay and Purdue Fort Wayne are surprisingly the 6th and 7th seeds, respectively, in the first release despite each having a 5-9 conference record. Despite having an abysmal road record – and only two of their final six games will be played on the road – Green Bay gets the nod as the 6th seed thanks to having played the fourth toughest schedule so far according to KenPom. Youngstown State, meanwhile, was slotted 8th despite a 4-10 record with only two road wins. They have played the league’s toughest schedule to date with half of their four wins coming on the road.
Detroit Mercy and UIC are a puzzling 9th and 10th in the initial seeding release despite each being .500 in conference play at 5-5. Even more puzzling for UDM is that they have played one of the league’s tougher schedules and 3 of their 5 conference victories have come on the road. UIC doesn’t have as impressive of a resume but you’d still assume a .500 record would be good enough for a top-half seed. The Horizon League is clearly placing a big emphasis on the number of games teams have played as UDM and UIC have each had four games cancelled due to COVID or mental health concerns.
One other thing to watch is which team would claim the top seed if Cleveland State and Wright State were to finish tied in the win/loss standings. It could potentially have NIT bid implications (if the NIT is played this year) should the top seed falter in the conference tournament. The two teams split their meetings on the court this season but CSU may get the nod due to having to play both of those games at the Nutter Center.
There are still plenty of games left to be played so these initial seed listings will surely change. Still, it is good to have a glimpse into how things could shake out and what needs to happen in order for some teams to move up the ladder.
The Horizon League will release another update following this weekend’s games.
If the Horizon League Tournament started today:
Categories: By The Numbers