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Horizon League Basketball: NCAA First Round Matchups

Raiders vs. NKU Men's Basketball Jan. 24 | Photo by Soham Parikh | The Wright State Guardian

Basketball | Photo by Soham Parikh | The Wright State Guardian

The Horizon League Championships are over, and the NCAA seeds have been decided. The two representatives from the Horizon League headed to the big stage are the Cleveland State Vikings from the men’s side, and the Wright State Raiders from the women’s side. 

Cleveland State will face number two Houston as a 15 seed, and Wright State will face number four Arkansas as a 13 seed.  

Cleveland going for Grimes 

The Vikings are 19-7 this year off of their Horizon League Championship, and are headed to the first round for the third time in program history. 

Cleveland owes a lot of their success this year to head coach Dennis Gates, who turned the team around and got them their first winning record season since 2015. 

While they have struggled on offense, the Vikings are a defensively solid team with Defensive Player of the Year Tre Gomillion, which helped them ride out tough games like a 3-O thriller against Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne. 

On the other side, Houston plays a very similar game to the Vikings, but seem to be a bit better at it. While the Vikings have scored 71.5 PPG, Houston has scored 77.6, and while Cleveland has allowed 70.6 Points per game, Houston has only allowed 57.9. 

Quentin Grimes has been the star player for the Cougars, outscoring the Vikings’ lead scorer Torrey Patton with 18 PPG to Patton’s 14.9. 

To win, the Vikings will need to outplay the Cougars in their own game. 

The Raiders crash the glass 

While a four seed versus thirteen seed can be an easy game to predict, the Raiders could give the Razorbacks a lot of trouble if they play to their strengths. 

Arkansas is 19-8 this year, and is the only team in the country that has beaten UConn this year,  due to their own style of aggressive offense. The Razorbacks have four players averaging double digit points, led by Chelsea Dungee with 22.2 PPG. 

While the Razorbacks are dominant in scoring, averaging the fourth highest PPG in the nation, the team’s weakness seems to be rebounding. 

Even though they went 9-6 in the historically fast paced SEC, Arkansas’s opponents had almost 225 more rebounds than them throughout the season. Coincidentally, rebounds are one of the biggest strengths of WSU. 

Head Coach Katrina Merriweather pushed the Raiders to work for every loose ball they can, making the mid-major school sixth place in the nation for offensive rebounds per game, and fourteenth in rebounds per game, where Arkansas doesn’t even crack the top 300. 

While Chelsea Dungee does outrank Wright State’s Angel Baker in PPG, Baker scored 22 points in her freshman NCAA first round, and will look to impress once again. 

If Baker has a strong game and Wright State crashes the glass hard as they have throughout the year, their style of play could counter the way Arkansas wants to win. 

Noah Kindig

Sports Reporter