The first day of March provides the first taste of Madness for college basketball fans in Michigan.
The Horizon League men’s basketball tournament begins Tuesday night, with Oakland University and University of Detroit Mercy both starting their postseason.
While there’s a consensus favorite at the sportsbooks in Cleveland State, the conference features seven teams that finished within three games of one another during the regular season.
How to watch the Horizon League tournament
The Horizon League men’s basketball tournament opens Tuesday with four games, all hosted by seeds 5 through 8. The tournament is re-seeded following the first and second rounds.
In the second round, which is Thursday, the top four seeds are added, and will host. All games in the first two rounds will be at either 7 or 8 p.m., and air on ESPN+.
Semifinals will be played at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Monday, March 7, at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis. They will air on ESPNU and ESPN2, respectively.
The final will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8, at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, and will air on ESPN. The winner of the tournament earns an automatic bid to the NCAA men’s tournament.
Oakland University Horizon League odds
The Golden Grizzlies enter the conference tournament coming off a huge win against top seeded Cleveland State.
Oakland picked up a 65-57 home victory against the Vikings this past Saturday, locking up the fifth seed in the tournament. It also pulled Cleveland State into a tie with Purdue Fort Wayne, which closed the season on a nine-game win streak.
It was an up-and-down season for Oakland, which finished 19-11 overall and 12-7 in conference play. The Grizzlies won their first seven Horizon League games, but lost six of their final nine.
The win against Cleveland State snapped a three-game losing streak.
Oakland, which is led by conference co-Player of the Year Jamal Cain, opens the Horizon League tournament with a home game against 12 seed IUPUI. The game begins at 8 p.m. and will air on ESPN+.
Oakland was runner-up in the 2021 tournament, which was its first trip to the finals.
Detroit Mercy Horizon League odds
Detroit Mercy enters the conference tournament on a relative hot streak, having won four of its final five games. The one loss came in the regular-season finale this past Saturday, a 3-point setback against red hot Purdue Fort Wayne.
The Titans finished the season 13-14 overall, but their 10-7 Horizon League record earned them the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament, and a home game in the opening round.
They will play No. 11 seed Green Bay at 7 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN+.
While Detroit features the other conference co-Player of the Year, Antoine Davis, and is just one seed behind the Grizzlies, its odds are much longer.
The Titans have won the tournament three times, most recently in 2012.
Cleveland State listed as Horizon League favorite
The volatile nature of the Horizon League is reflected in the odds. While defending champion and top seed Cleveland State has been installed as the favorite, a bet on the Vikings pays out at least 2-to-1.
DraftKings lists them as the strongest favorite at +200, but they’re listed as high as +230 at FanDuel.
The heirarchy behind the Vikings depends on the sportsbook. Both Caesars and PointsBet had Purdue Fort Wayne listed second at +350 and +375, respectively.
The Mastodons are the No. 2 seed, and their nine-game win streak to end the season certainly makes them the hottest team heading into the postseason. But DraftKings (+550) and FanDuel (+500) still have them listed fourth among the conference favorites as of Monday.
No. 3 Northern Kentucky and No. 4 Wright State are also among the top four at all the sportsbooks and have odds as long as +450 at Caesars (and PointsBet for Wright State).