2022 Horizon League men's basketball tournament: Parity reigns as a number of teams chase tournament title
Photo: Christian Peters/The Wright State Guardian

The 2022 Horizon League tournament kicks off on Monday with plenty of storylines: Cleveland State chases back-to-back NCAA Tournament bids while co-regular season champion Purdue Fort Wayne is after their first.

A number of challengers, including Oakland, Wright State, Northern Kentucky and Detroit Mercy will be nipping at the top two's heels. 

VAVEL takes a look at all of the action that will unfold in what should be one of the most interesting conference tournaments of 2022.

Tournament schedule

The first round and quarterfinals will be at campus sites with the semifinals and final at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis. The field is reseeded after every round.

In an odd twist, Illinois-Chicago won't have home-court advantage after the league banned them from postseason play for announcing their intentions to leave the Horizon, but eventually reversed their decision.

All games up until the semifinals will be on ESPN+. The first semifinal will be on ESPNU while the second semifinal will be on ESPN2. The final will be shown on ESPN.

First round (March 1)

#11 Green Bay at #6 Detroit Mercy, 7pm

#10 Robert Morris at Youngstown State, 7pm

#8 Illinois-Chicago at #9 Milwaukee, 8pm

#12 IUPUI at #5 Oakland, 8pm

Quarterfinals (March 3)

Highest remaining seed at #4 Wright State, 7pm

Second highest remaining seed at #3 Northern Kentucky, 7pm

Second lowest remaining seed at #2 Purdue Fort Wayne, 7pm

Lowest remaining seed vs #1 Cleveland State, 8 pm

Semifinals (March 7)

Lowest remaining Seed vs highest remaining seed, 7pm

Second lowest remaining seed vs second-highest remaining seed, 9:30 p.m. 

Final (March 8)

Semifinal winners, 7pm

The favorite

Despite the parity in the league, Cleveland State are still the odds-on favorites to reach their second consecutive NCAA Tournament. A 10-1 start seemed to have them on cruise control, but they lost their last two games.

The Vikings are in the top 40 nationally of effective field goal, offensive rebounding, and two-point percentage, only scoring less than 70 points five times in their 21 conference games.

Their three-headed monster of D'Moi Hodge, Torrey Patton and Tre Gomillion each shoot around 50% from the field taking 74.4% of the teams’ shots.

The contenders

Purdue Fort Wayne come into the tournament the hottest team in the league, having won nine straight. They defeated Cleveland State in triple overtime in February as part of that streak.

Damian Chong Qui came into the program as a transfer from Mount St. Mary's to go along with the star backcourt of Jarred Godfrey and Jalon Pipkins.

Oakland is led by their two stars, Jalen Moore and Jamal Cain. Moore ranks second in the country in the percentage of minutes played and sixth in assist rate. Cain averages 20.1 points per game and is 71st in the country in the percentage of minutes played.

Micah Parrish has gotten hot at the right time, scoring in double digits in six straight games. The Golden Grizzlies have shown that they can beat quality opponents, having knocked off Toledo and Oklahoma State.

The darkhorses

Northern Kentucky is heating up at the right time as they look for their third bid in the last four years. The Norse are winners of 11 of their last 13 and are led by Marques Warrick and potential Horizon freshman of the year Trevon Faulkner.

Wright State are contenders again, but need to get over the hump come conference tournament time. They have the firepower in juniors Tanner Holden (19.9 PPG), Grant Basile (18.3 PPG), and Trey Calvin (13.9 PPG).

Detroit Mercy has a losing record, but Antoine Davis is a legend, having scored 2,655 points, the most by any active Division I player. Noah Waterman has scored in double figures in nine of his last 12 games for the Titans.

Analysis

This will be one of the toughest conference tournaments to forecast because Cleveland State has plenty of challengers who have all the ingredients you need come March.

Chong Qui gives Purdue Fort Wayne experience, having played in last year's NCAA's with Mount St. Mary's while Oakland and Wright State have multiple scoring options.

Northern Kentucky knows how to win come this time of year. The Norse have lost just once in the conference tournament since they became eligible for it while Davis is capable of leading Detroit Mercy all by himself.

I'll take a chance on Wright State putting it all together and making a run to March Madness for the first time since 2007.

Prediction: Wright State def. Purdue Fort Wayne

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