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Horizon League Tournament Odds, Preview, and Pick – UPDATED

Chris Amberley

by Chris Amberley in College Basketball

Updated Mar 3, 2021 · 10:34 AM PST

Horizon League Tournament bracket
The 2021 Horizon League Conference Tournament bracket.
  • The Horizon League Tournament begins play on Thursday, February 25th, at campus sites, with the semifinals and championship game taking place March 8th and 9th in Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Wright State won a share of its third straight regular-season title, but Detroit Mercy offers intriguing value as a longshot
  • See the seeds, bracket, and full tournament preview, below

Editor’s note: no online sportsbooks released pre-tournament odds for the Horizon League Conference Tournament. Odds were released once the quarterfinals were set. The table below was updated on Tuesday, Mar. 2, at 11:04 am ET.ย 

The Horizon League will be the first conference tournament in college basketball to tip off this year. Opening-round action gets underway on Thursday (Feb. 25th) at campus sites, with the semifinals and championship game taking place at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, in Indianapolis, Indiana on March 8th and 9th.

No Horizon League program will make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large, so winning the conference tourney is their only shot to advance to March Madness.

Wright State and Cleveland State earned a share of the regular season title with identical 16-4 conference records, and while the Vikings are the top seed, it’s the Raiders who should be considered the favorite.

2021 Horizon Tournament Odds

Team (Seed) Odds
Wright State Raiders (2) -250
Detroit Mercy Titans (5) +500
Cleveland State Vikings (1) +600
Northern Kentucky Norse (4) +1000
Oakland Golden Grizzlies (3) +1000
Youngstown State Penguins (6) +2000
Milwaukee Panthers (8) +2500
Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons (10) +5000
Green Bay Phoenix (7) Out
IUPUI Jaguars (9) Out
UIC Flames (11) Out
Robert Morris Colonials (12) Out

Odds taken Feb. 23rd.

The top-four teams all receive a bye directly into the quarterfinal, which, like the opening round games, will take place on campus sites.

Fade Cleveland State

Despite winning 16 games in the conference for the first time in program history, there are plenty of red flags surrounding the Vikings. They stumbled down the stretch, losing two of their final four outings, and scored more than 80 points just once in 2021.

They boast one of the weakest offenses in the Horizon League, ranking 10th in points per game, three-point efficiency, and free-throw percentage, and seventh in total rebounding.

Leading scorer Torrey Patton is one of the most reliable players in the conference, averaging 14 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists a night, but he’s just one of two Vikings averaging in double figures.

Cleveland State relies heavily on its defense, which can be a risky proposition in a tournament full of single elimination games. They rank second in points allowed and enemy field goal percentage, and are tops when it comes to steals and defending the 3-point line.

A semifinal showdown with Detroit Mercy is likely, and that’s a program the Vikings don’t want to face. The Titans beat Cleveland State by six on the road two weeks ago, and blew a 14-point lead in their only other meeting.

Should the Vikings escape Detroit Mercy, they’ll likely have to face a Wright State program that beat them by 39 earlier this season.

The Raiders Are Red-Hot

Speaking of Wright State, a share of the regular-season title with Cleveland State was their third straight and now they’re looking for their first conference title and NCAA Tournament appearance since 2018.

The Raiders won 11 of their final 12 games down the stretch, and just one of their four conference losses was by more than six points.

They’re led by reigning two-time conference player of the year Loudon Love, who, after a slow start to the season, dominated down the stretch. The Senior center averaged 22.7 points and 10.7 rebounds over his final seven games, recording a double-double in six of those outings. He finished with 12 double-doubles in 23 games, the fourth-most in the nation, but he’s not the only offensive threat on this roster.

Sophomore guard Tanner Holden, who along with Love was a first team all-conference star, averaged 15.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The offensive weaponry doesn’t stop there, as Grant Basile was named to the all-conference second team, after posting 14.2 points and 6.7 boards per night.

With that many scoring threats, its little wonder that Wright State led the Horizon League in points per game, while ranking second in field goal percentage and assists.

Not to be outdone is their defense, which just happens to be the best in the conference. The Raiders lead the Horizon league in opponent points per game and enemy shooting percentage, while ranking second in blocks.

They’re playing as well as anyone in the conference at the moment, and are certainly a deserving favorite, but there’s one other program that needs consideration.

Mercy Mercy Mercy

Detroit Mercy was lights out down the stretch, and own at least one win over four of the top-seven seeds. They won 10 of their final 12 games and, although they won’t receive a first-round bye, they’ve beaten their opening-round opponent Robert Morris by double-digits twice already this season.

The Titans are led by Antoine Davis, who averaged a conference best 23.3 points per game in 2020-21. The junior guard was even better down the stretch, averaging 27.5 points over the team’s final 12 outings, eclipsing the 30-point barrier four separate times.

Detroit Mercy ranks behind only Wright State in points per game, and is the conference’s best three-point and free-throw shooting team. They put up at least 80 points in five of their final six games and are loaded with eight upperclassmen in their nine-man rotation.

Defensively, they’re hit-and-miss most nights, but in a single-elimination game, they’re arguably the last team in the conference you’d want to face, just ask Cleveland State.

Look for Davis to cap off his incredible season by leading the Titans to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012.

While you can’t bet them outright to win the title on the eve of the tournament, consider betting their moneyline after the first round.

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