A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

NKU plays host to powerful Wright State in pivotal Horizon League series to conclude regular season

By Don Owen
NKyTribune sports editor

Due to the complicated formula being used to determine seedings for the upcoming Horizon League Tournament, it’s impossible to know what this weekend’s two-game series between Wright State and Northern Kentucky really means.

What is absolutely indisputable, though, is the fact that motivation will not be a problem for either team.

NKU freshman guard Marques Warrick is scoring 15.3 points per game this season. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

Wright State owns a nine-game winning streak and is tied with Cleveland State atop the Horizon League standings with a 15-3 mark. The Horizon League’s formula, however, indicates that Cleveland State is the current No. 1 seed and Wright State is No. 2.

In other words, Wright State likely needs to sweep NKU this weekend and hope Purdue Fort Wayne can knock off Cleveland State at least once in the regular-season finale at Fort Wayne.

NKU and Wright State play at 6 p.m. Friday in the series opener at BB&T Arena. The two teams conclude regular-season play Saturday at 5 p.m.

Wright State is 17-4 overall, while Cleveland State is 15-6. Most national metrics have Wright State rated above Cleveland State, including NCAA Tournament seeding projections. But the Horizon League’s formula currently has Cleveland State as the No. 1 seed for its postseason event.

NKU, meanwhile, is 12-9 overall, 10-6 in the Horizon League. The Norse are third in the Horizon League standings based on winning percentage, but the rankings currently have NKU as the fourth seed behind Oakland (9-9 record in the Horizon League).

Based on winning percentage, Oakland is in fifth place in the Horizon League standings, trailing both NKU (10-6) and Detroit Mercy (8-6). Winning percentage, though, is not the determining factor this season due to the unbalanced schedules played by Horizon League teams as a result of the pandemic.

Trevon Faulkner scored 21 points to lead NKU to a 71-66 win at Green Bay last Saturday. The Mercer County High School graduate also moved into 39th place on the NKU all-time scoring list with 903 career points.

Faulkner passed former NKU standout center Cliff Clinton (899 career points) for 39th place. The junior guard averages 16.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 steals. Faulkner is 22nd in the nation in made free throws (91) and his 33 steals rank 70th.

Wright State’s Loudon Love goes inside for a basket against NKU last season. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

Marques Warrick has won six Horizon League Freshman of the Week honors after earning the award on Feb. 8 and is second on the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game. Since the start of league play, the Henry Clay High School graduate has elevated his scoring efforts to 16.9 points per contest.

Loudon Love — the reigning Horizon League Player of the Year — is averaging 16.7 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. The Raiders also receive double-digit scoring contributions from Tanner Holden (16.0 ppg), Grant Basile (13.8 ppg) and Tim Finke (10.0 ppg).

Trey Calvin and Jaylon Hall are just off the double-figure scoring mark at 9.9 and 9.6 ppg, respectively. Wright State has not lost since dropping a 66-64 decision to Cleveland State on Jan. 15.

A year ago, Wright State defeated NKU twice en route to capturing the Horizon League regular-season title. The Raiders have won three of the past four games at BB&T Arena, knocking off the host Norse in 2016, 2018 and last season.

Wright State owns a 26-12 lead in the all-time series with NKU. The Raiders are 7-5 against the Norse since NKU transitioned to the NCAA Division I level. As Horizon league rivals, Wright State has fared better in the even years (2016, 2018, 2020) winning all six matchups, while NKU has fared better in the odd years (2017, 2019) with a 5-1 record.

Don Owen is sports editor of the Northern Kentucky Tribune. Contact him at don@nkytrib.com and follow him on Twitter at @dontribunesport.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment