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Horizon League Conference Tournament preview: Can Green Bay finish off its great season?

Mar 3, 2014, 5:20 PM EST

source: AP

AP Photo

After last season’s thrilling Horizon League title game that saw Valparaiso close out Wright State with an 18-4 run to end the game, this year’s conference tournament should also be exciting as plenty of talented teams and plenty of talented players will take the floor. Green Bay, Cleveland State and Wright State will be the three favorites to capture the auto bid, but Valparaiso, Youngstown State and Oakland have enough star power to make things interesting.

(MORE: Browse through all of our conference tournament previews)

The Bracket

When: March 4-11

Where: Campus sites (first round), Green Bay (second round and semifinals), highest seeded team (championship)

Final: Tuesday, March 11, 7:00 p.m., ESPN

Favorite: Green Bay

Green Bay will be the favorite in the Horizon League Tournament as they get a double bye before a home game in the semifinals and a potential home game in the championship. Keifer Sykes and Alex Brown form the league’s top inside-ouside combo and Green Bay has a home win over ACC champion Virginia.

And if they lose?: Cleveland State

Also having the benefit of a double bye, Cleveland State has won 10 of its last 11 games with the only loss coming against Green Bay. The Vikings’ biggest strength lies in its balance. Five players average at least 9.6 points per game and four of those players have made at least 40 three-pointers on the season. Cleveland State’s offense can give other teams fits with its balance and ability to space the floor at multiple positions.

Sleepers:

  • Wright State: The Raiders placed third in the regular season and have won four consecutive games entering the Horizon League Tournament after falling just short of the NCAA Tournament last season.
  • Valparaiso: It was a surprising season for a new-look Valpo team that has plenty of talent in senior guard Lavonte Dority and freshman forward Alec Peters.

Studs:

  • Keifer Sykes, Green Bay: The junior guard is averaging 20.4 points, five assists and 4.4 rebounds a game and also has ridiculous bounce.
  • Bryn Forbes, Cleveland State: Forbes leads the Vikings’ balanced offensive attack at 15.4 points per game while shooting 41 percent from three-point range and 82 percent from the charity stripe.
  • Lavonte Dority, Valparaiso: The senior guard averages a team-leading 16.4 points a game and he’s shooting great percentages (46% FG, 85% FT, 44% 3PT) across the board.
  • Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State: The stat-sheet stuffing senior guard averaged 20.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.4 steals a game while shooting 50 percent from the field, 73 percent from the free throw line and 35 percent from three.

CBT Prediction: Green Bay over Cleveland State