Can Green Bay run the table?

2014-01-22T21:50:00Z Can Green Bay run the table?By Paul Oren pgmado@gmail.com nwitimes.com
January 22, 2014 9:50 pm  • 

For as good as the Valparaiso men's basketball team has been over the last two years, the Crusaders never truly dominated the Horizon League while winning both regular season titles.

The Crusaders didn't clinch either of their titles until the last week of the regular season and constantly battled Detroit (over the last two years) and Cleveland State (in 2012) for conference supremacy.

Not since Butler ran the table, going 18-0, in 2009-10 has a team completely outperformed the rest of the Horizon League.

We may be seeing a repeat of Butler's performance this season by way of the Green Bay Phoenix.

Brian Wardle's squad is 6-0 in conference play after knocking off Oakland 83-69 on Wednesday night. Looking at the remaining schedule, it's completely conceivable that the Phoenix may run the table and finish the regular season 16-0.

Green Bay has 10 Horizon League games remaining, with five at home and five on the road. The Phoenix are currently on a 11-game winning streak dating back to Dec. 14. The streak includes four straight road wins, including three conference victories (UIC, Wright State, Milwaukee).

The Phoenix host Detroit on Saturday before coming to the Athletics-Recreation Center next Thursday to face the Crusaders. That will be Green Bay's next big test and they have two more potential land mines remaining after that. The Phoenix travel to Youngstown State on Feb. 13 and then play at Cleveland State two days later.

Going forward it's likely that Green Bay will be favored in every game it plays. The experienced duo of Keifer Sykes and Alec Brown have the ability to meet any challenge on the road, as evidenced by close victories over Milwaukee and UIC.

While running the table is probably still considered a long shot, if the Phoenix do get through the conference season with no more than one loss and then fall short in the tournament title game, one would have to think that Green Bay has an outside shot at an at-large bid. The Phoenix don't have a knockout resume, but a win against Virginia and a three-point loss to Wisconsin (assuming the Badgers right the ship) should at least garner a closer look.

I don't think it will come to an at-large bid because I simply don't see a team in the league that is capable of going into the Resch Center and beating the Phoenix in a 40-minute game. It was a good run at the ARC for the conference tournament, but I have to believe the Horizon League will be setting up shop in Green Bay this March.

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Paul Oren

Paul Oren

Paul Oren is a beat reporter for Valparaiso University as well as various high school sports throughout the Region. He has covered NCAA tournaments in basketball, soccer, tennis and volleyball, along with numerous IHSAA state championship events.

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