10,000 Sims of the Horizon League

The Horizon League appears to be a two-team race this season between Green Bay and Wright State. The Phoenix have 7’1″ center Alec Brown leading the charge and the Raiders counter with a veteran lineup that appears to have been waiting for an opportunity like this one. Both teams have the potential to be amongst the top 100 in college basketball this season.

Of course, just because those two teams are the favorites it doesn’t necessarily mean one is going to take home the regular season title. Though it’s pretty likely. If you combine their total win percentages you see that more than 80% of the time one or the other at least tied for the league title. Ken Pomeroy’s numbers probably underrate a few teams in the Horizon League. That could cause a big shift in the simulations. For now though, here are the results of 10,000 sims of the Horizon League.

Name Outright % Tie % Avg. Margin Avg. Wins
Green Bay 31.6% 16.5% 2.0 10.7
Wright St. 27.0% 15.9% 1.9 10.5
Oakland 4.7% 5.9% 1.6 8.5
Valparaiso 4.0% 5.2% 1.5 8.3
Detroit 3.7% 5.4% 1.5 8.2
Cleveland St. 2.9% 4.1% 1.5 8.0
Youngstown St. 1.7% 2.7% 1.5 7.5
UIC 0.0% 0.3% 1.0 5.2
Milwaukee 0.0% 0.1% 1.0 4.9

Not bad. There’s a big clump there in places three through seven. Those four teams have a KenPom rating of 144-188 right now and thus beat up on each other, which leaves a better opportunity for GB and WSU to rise to the top. If one of those teams (perhaps newcomer Oakland, transfer heavy Valparaiso, or Cleveland State) can break through and get to the 115 range or so in Pomeroy’s rankings they might be able to chase down the two contenders.

Undefeated 16-game conference seasons are hard and due to the fact that there are two teams at the same level it happened very rarely, just 26 times total. There were also 31 winless seasons, which isn’t that many. That’s due to the fact that Pomeroy’s preseason rankings expect UIC to regress and drop closer to Milwaukee in the standings. (Note: There are some preseason projections that actually think the Panthers will pass UIC.) Either way, it’s a good way to make sure no one goes winless.

How many wins is it going to take to win the league? Well, the most common number during the simulations was 12 at 34.2% of the time. Things happen during a college basketball season though that makes me feel confident it’ll take more. Though going 12-4 last season did get Detroit second place in the league standings, just a game behind Valparaiso. There’s a 31.8% chance (so about 1/3) that it ends up taking more than 12 victories again.

Expect it to take between 11-13 victories to take home a Horizon League title.
Expect it to take between 11-13 victories to take home a Horizon League title.

It looks like a two-team race, but it should be a fun one again in the Horizon League.

2 thoughts on “10,000 Sims of the Horizon League

  1. Wright State is one of the most over rated teams in the country, Green Bay is always tough, Oakland will get a wake up call playing in a real league, Cleveland State and Detroit will be right up there when it’s over.


    1. Real league? The league Oakland left boasted a couple teams that could make some trouble in our league, and Oakland did fine. Don’t get me wrong, the HL is better, but only because there are 7 or 8 decent programs (including Oakland), rather than the 2 or 3 that are left in the Summit.

      That said, yeah, Oakland’s being overrated in preseason polls. They’re not going to be the bottom dwellers that you “real league” types seem to think, but these Top 3 predictions for Oakland have to be a little bit insulting to Cleveland State and Valpo, who will probably both outperform Oakland.


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