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Horizon League Tournament bracket and predictions: Northern Kentucky locks up the one seed

The Norse are the top seed as they look to defend their title. But should they be considered the favorites in Detroit?

NCAA Basketball: Northern Kentucky at Texas A&M C. Morgan Engel-USA TODAY Sports

Most of the Horizon League season was a battle between Northern Kentucky and Wright State for the top spot. The Raiders swept the season series with the Norse, but it was Northern Kentucky who clinched the No. 1 seed with a victory at IUPUI on Sunday. The Norse will be going for their second consecutive Horizon League Tournament championship.

Wright State entered the final week of the season tied with Northern Kentucky. But, a loss to IUPUI on Friday cost the Raiders the top spot. Wright State enters the tournament as the second seed, but has had the Norse’s number in their two regular season meetings.

Despite much of the attention being on the battle between those two teams, UIC entered the final week of the season with an opportunity to jump into the league’s top spot. The Flames started conference play 3-3, but then won nine of their next 10 games. UIC was unable to take down Northern Kentucky on Friday night to keep their championship hopes alive and will settle for the No. 3 seed.

Tournament Bracket

How to Watch

The first two rounds will be streamed on ESPN3. The semifinals will air on ESPNU while the championship game will be broadcast on ESPN.

First Round (March 2); ESPN3

Game 1: No. 10 Detroit vs. No. 7 Green Bay, 5:30 p.m. ET

Game 2: No. 9 Youngstown State vs. No. 8 Cleveland State, 8 p.m. ET

Quarterfinals (March 3); ESPN3

Game 3: Winner of Game 1 vs. No. 2 Wright State, 5:30 p.m. ET

Game 4: Winner of Game 2 vs. No. 1 Northern Kentucky, 8 p.m. ET

Quarterfinals (March 4); ESPN3

Game 5: No. 6 Milwaukee vs. No. 3 UIC, 5 p.m. ET

Game 6: No. 5 IUPUI vs. No. 4 Oakland, 7:30 p.m. ET

Semifinals (March 5); ESPNU

Game 7: Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 4, 7 p.m. ET

Game 8: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 3, 9:30 p.m. ET

Championship (March 6); ESPN

Game 9: Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 7, 7 p.m. ET

Predictions

Northern Kentucky took the top seed and regular season championship. They also have the best overall record of any team in the league and are the only top-100 KenPom team present.

Despite all of that, I like Wright State’s chances to win Motor City Madness. The Raiders are clearly a matchup problem for Northern Kentucky, as seen by their regular season sweep of the Norse. Both games ended with just a single possession separating the two teams, but Wright State has the formula to beat Northern Kentucky.

However, it should be noted that the top two seeds are a combined 0-4 in tournament play since the inception of Motor City Madness. Do not be surprised if more chaos ensues in the Horizon League. That could open an opportunity for UIC or Oakland to string together some wins and take the automatic NCAA Tournament bid. Regardless of the outcome, the Horizon League Tournament should be a fun one.

Update 2/27/18:

The Horizon League announced the championship game will be aired on ESPN. This article originally had ESPN2 listed.