FACTS & STATS: Site: Nutter Center (10,449) -- Dayton, Ohio. Television: Horizon League Network. Home Record: Valpo 12-1, WSU 9-2. Away Record: Valpo 7-5, WSU 8-5. Neutral Record: Valpo 0-0, WSU 0-1. Conference Record: Valpo 9-2, WSU 8-4. Series Record: Wright State leads, 11-9.
GAME NOTES: Two of the Horizon League's hottest programs will battle atop the conference standings as the Valparaiso Crusaders visit the Nutter Center to square off with the Wright State Raiders.
This will be the 21st meeting in history between these schools. In the 20th encounter, the Crusaders held on for a 69-63 win earlier this season. Valpo's victory narrowed Wright State's all-time series lead to 11-9. In the January clash, the Crusaders scored on their final 10 possessions of the game, overcoming a seven-point deficit with less than seven minutes remaining to earn the victory.
Valpo is coming off of an 80-72 victory over Cleveland State which served as its ninth win in 10 games. The Crusaders are now 1.5 games ahead of Detroit and Wright State for first place in the Horizon League race entering the final chapter of its two-game road swing. Coach Bryce Drew has a pair of elite forwards in Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk powering his squad. Broekhoff is netting 16.8 points and 8.0 rebounds to pace the unit while Van Wijk provides an additional 12.6 points and 4.7 boards per tilt.
In their victory of CSU, the Crusaders connected on 55.1 percent of their field goal tries to overcome a 33-20 rebounding deficit. Both the Vikings and Valpo made 19 free throws in the contest, but Valpo committed only nine turnovers to CSU's 17 miscues. Broekhoff scored 15 points, leading five players in double figures. Van Wijk accounted for 14 points, Bobby Capobianco had 13 in just 13 minutes off the bench, followed by Will Bogan and Erik Buggs with 11 points apiece for the Crusaders as they won their third straight.
Wright State also enters on a three-game winning streak after its 64-49 rout of Milwaukee on Saturday. The Raiders have the second most wins in the conference (17) behind Valpo. Coach Billy Donlon's team is going to be tough to beat at the Nutter Center, where it own a 9-2 record on the campaign. The Raiders have gotten the job done with defense, surrendering just 58.5 points per game. Cole Darling paces the offense with 11.5 ppg on 46.5 percent shooting from the floor, but he is the only player on the squad with a double- digit scoring average.
In their win over Milwaukee, the Raiders shot 48 percent overall, hit six of 12 3-pointers and made 16-of-19 free throws, while Milwaukee shot 40 percent for the game. Darling and Jerran Young each scored 18 points, while Tavares Sledge pulled down a game-high nine boards. Wright State outscored the Panthers 11-2 in second-chance points and also 32-16, in bench points.
This one should go down to the wire just like the first matchup. Valpo's ability to punish the opposition from 3-point range will play a big factor. Wright State will need to find enough offensive production to play up to the level of the Crusaders, who are beatable on occasion.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wright State 69, Valparaiso 66
02/12 10:31:33 ET
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