SportsPulse: With college football season in the books, we turn our focus to basketball.
USA TODAY Sports
Wright State (12-5, 4-0 Horizon League) vs. NKU (11-5, 4-0 Horizon League)
Tipoff: 7 p.m., Thursday, BB&T Arena
Listen: ESPN1530 (1530 AM)
The Wright State-Northern Kentucky matchup Thursday night pits the two best teams in the Horizon League against each other with considerable regular season implications. Of course whoever wins will sit atop the conference, but the game offers the Norse an opportunity to continue their home winning-streak that dates back to Jan. 20 2017.
NKU and WSU each beat Oakland, the preseason conference favorite, this past weekend. The Raiders are coming off an overtime win against the Grizzlies, while the Norse sneaked out of Michigan with a 56-54 win over Detroit Mercy on Sunday afternoon against the worst team in the conference.
Numbers to track
6 – Preseason polls can be misleading. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Both teams beating the preseason favorites at Oakland proves as much. Oakland’s transfer Kendrick Nunn, who arrived from Illinois, was also picked to be second team all-conference, and is casually positioned as the second-best scorer in the country. Also an oops. So looking at WSU’s preseason pick to finish sixth either appears that the Raiders are either overachievers or misunderstood. At this point, it’s more of the latter. Wright State has won eight of its last nine. (Also, UIC, which NKU beat 86-51, was picked to finish third. It’s in ninth.)
33.3 – Northern Kentucky shot a season-low 33.3 percent from the field on Sunday afternoon at Detroit Mercy. The low percentage was a mix of contested shots, poor selection and some attempts simply rolling out. Both WSU and NKU allow the fewest points per game, which could mean Northern Kentucky finds itself in a scrap similar to Sunday more than another comfortable win such as its last conference slate of home games.
3,451 – The Norse currently lead the Horizon League in home attendance, which should be seen as a positive for head coach John Brannen, who said he wants to have the best home-court advantage in the conference. Ironically, Wright State is second in attendance, averaging 3,403 per game this season at home.
3 – It’s also worth noting the Norse beat the Raiders three times last year, including its first game at Motor City Madness ahead of a postseason run to a first NCAA Tournament appearance.
Player to watch
Grant Bezinger leads Wright State with 14.6 points per game, as well as 4.5 rebounds. He also posts a team-high 33.1 minutes per night on the floor.