Preview & Prediction: By Blake Hofstad
The battle for Horizon league supremacy is being waged early on. With Wright State underperforming, Cleveland State (5-2) and Butler (5-0) have emerged as the conference’s elite teams. Many people, including myself, expected Butler to yield the conference title to the Vikings this season. After all, Butler lost almost everyone from last year’s team. However, the Bulldogs have proven through 5 games that they won’t go down without a fight.
Butler features their usual balanced scoring attack. No Bulldog has to be relied on to carry the load. Gordon Hayward continues the Butler big man tradition of cleaning the glass and knocking down threes. He brings tremendous versatility to the court, and can play anywhere from 2 guard to power forward. Matt Howard is the Bulldogs inside scorer, and the only real returnee who did anything last year. Shelvin Mack is a freshman guard who has really stepped up. Butler, like in past years, has a bunch of guys who can all shoot the three, know their role, and win as a team. Role players such as Willie Veasley and Ronald Nored get significant minutes and do what it takes to get the W.
Cleveland State looks like the most likely candidate to take Butler’s spot as conference champion should the Bulldogs falter. They rely more on the star power factor than Butler, led by J’Nathan Bullock. The 6-5 wing is the Vikings leading scorer and rebounder, and is shooting lights out so far this season. Point guard Cedric Jackson’s 10 points and 6 assists per look good. The 4 turnovers and 13% 3-point percentage don’t. He will need to cut down on the turnovers against Butler, a team that minimizes mistakes and capitalizes off of opponents errors. The heavily backcourt-oriented Vikings will need to find some semblance of a post presence against Butler, who features taller guards with the ability to play forward. The Viking guards have done a very nice job on the boards so far, and if they are able to hold their own against a taller Butler squad, they’ll have a much better chance at a victory.
I like Butler in this one. They are always tough in conference play, and Cleveland State will be handed their third loss. However, Butler can’t relax because of a brutal out-of-conference schedule, which features Bradley, Ohio State, Xavier and UAB.
Winner: Butler Margin 5-8
- Bracketology: Selection Sunday Projection
- Bracketology: Saturday Night NCAA Tournament Projection
- Non-BCS Top 25: Creighton, Colorado St Rise
- College Basketball Top 50: Indiana Ends Regular Season #1
- Non-BCS Top 25: Valpo Replaces BYU
- College Basketball Top 50: Maryland and Iowa St Drop Out
- Non-BCS Top 25: Davidson In, Wyoming Out
- College Basketball Top 50: #2 Gonzaga Hits All-Time High
- Non-BCS Top 25: Air Force, Davidson Making Moves
- College Basketball Top 50: Another Week, Another #1
About Blake Hofstad
An avid sports fan, you can nearly always find Blake Hofstad playing, watching, writing or just talking sports. His favorite team is the Wisconsin Badgers, and he is a huge Big Ten and Missouri Valley fan. The two things he hates about college basketball are Duke and the love Duke gets from most media members. You can find more of Blake's work on Onlinesportsfanatic.com.