Oakland, Detroit Mercy both have open weekends; rivalry series could be pushed up

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

This weekend's Horizon League men's basketball series between Oakland and Northern Kentucky has been called off because of a positive COVID-19 test and quarantining at Northern Kentucky.

But Oakland still is expected to play games Saturday and Sunday; just won't know against whom until 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Oakland guard Jalen Moore (34)

The Horizon League is expected to alter the schedule throughout the season as need be when programs are hit with COVID-19. Oakland head coach Greg Kampe said his team is preparing for any team except UIC, which it played this past weekend, as well as IUPUI and Northern Kentucky, which are paused because of COVID-19.

"We're preparing to play anybody," Kampe said Tuesday afternoon, a half-hour after getting the news about Northern Kentucky.

One possibility is an intriguing one: rival Detroit Mercy.

Detroit Mercy doesn't have games scheduled for this weekend after IUPUI had to cancel. On the original schedule, the Titans and Golden Grizzlies are scheduled to play Jan. 22-23 at the O'Rena in Rochester. The Horizon League could theoretically move that series up, and possibly move the Detroit Mercy-IUPUI and Oakland-Northern Kentucky series to later in the season.

Oakland (0-9) was to host Northern Kentucky (3-4) on Saturday and Sunday. Former Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins was set to broadcast both games on ESPN3.

The Horizon League significantly altered its league schedule this season to avoid as many COVID-19 outbreaks as possible, staging back-to-backs at a single site and disallowing nonconference games after the league season began.

Oakland, which was shut down for nearly three weeks before the season because of a major COVID-19 outbreak, is the lone Division I men's program in the state that has played its regularly scheduled slate of games.

The Eastern Michigan men's program remains paused but expects to play Sunday at home against Olivet. On the women's side, No. 17 Michigan is paused and has postponed two games, including Wednesday night's game against Penn State.


Twitter: @tonypaul1984