What’s the saying? While the cats’ away, the mice will play? Well, that’s exactly what’s about to happen in the Horizon League now with their cash cow (the Butler Bulldogs) in the Atlantic 10. Over the past several seasons, there hasn’t been a team in the Horizon League that has made as much noise nationally as Butler has. The last team to make any noise nationally was the 2009 Cleveland State team, featuring current NBA guard Norris Cole, which upset Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
But with Butler now gone and not coming back, what program will step up to claim the automatic bid out of the Horizon League? The first program that jumps out as a candidate to take over the league is Valparaiso. Valpo is currently 16-5 overall and sits atop of the league standings. I would not, however, count out the University of Detroit. Detroit features former McDonald’s All-American Ray McCallum, and he’s capable of getting hot around tournament time and leading his team to a conference championship.
The last program to keep an eye on is the Cleveland State Vikings. Veteran coach Gary Waters has been the only coach that could match wits with Brad Stevens of Butler. CSU is having a bit of a down year, but the team has also been decimated by injuries. They currently sit near the bottom of the conference standings, but don’t be surprised if in years to come, you see Cleveland State back in the tournament.