Men's College Basketball
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Loyola-Chicago (7-19) at Valparaiso (19-10)

The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Tuesday, February 21st, 8:05 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) -- Valparaiso, Indiana. Television: Local. Home Record: Loyola-Chicago 4-7, Valparaiso 11-2. Away Record: Loyola-Chicago 3-12, Valparaiso 8-7. Neutral Record: Loyola- Chicago 0-0, Valparaiso 0-1. Conference Record: Loyola-Chicago 1-14, Valparaiso 12-4. Series Record: Loyola-Chicago leads, 33-13.

GAMES NOTES: The Valparaiso Crusaders will host the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers in an Horizon League matchup at the Athletics-Recreation Center, as both teams return to conference play after BracketBuster weekend.

Loyola-Chicago got the upper hand of a weak Bradley squad on Saturday. It was a a much needed win for the Ramblers who are now 7-19 overall. Loyola-Chicago had lost 12-of-13 games, including an 11-game losing stretch that began at the end of December. The team is currently just 1-14 in the Horizon League. Next up for the Ramblers is a matchup with Green Bay.

Valparaiso has enjoyed a much more successful season especially in conference play where the Crusaders are 12-4, sitting atop the conference standings. The Crusaders took a step back with a defeat to Loyola Marymount on Friday which was the second in three games for the Crusaders after they won four straight. Valparaiso will play its final game of the regular season on Friday when it hosts Butler.

In the first meeting between these schools this season Valparaiso rang up a 69-48 victory on the road, the fifth win in the last six meetings for Valpo. Loyola-Chicago still holds the all-time series lead at a commanding 33-13.

Prolific offense was not what would describe Loyola-Chicago's win over Bradley over the weekend as the Ramblers took home a 56-44 win after shooting 46.2 percent from the floor including just 1-of-11 from three point range. The Ramblers were much better than the Braves however who shot just 33.3 percent in the game.

Defensive efforts like that have been necessitated for Loyola-Chicago by the teams inability to score effectively this season. Entering play the Ramblers are scoring only 55.6 points per game which is last in the Horizon League and better than only five teams in the country. Loyola-Chicago's defense has done what it can to keep the team in games allowing 61.2 points per contest for a -5.6 scoring differential. Ben Averkamp held on to his title as the teams leading scorer by pouring in a game-high 19 points against Bradley. The junior forward is now scoring 14.5 points per game while also holding a team lead on the glass at 7.1 rebounds per game. Averkamp missed two games earlier in the month but is averaging 19.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game since his return. The Ramblers will need others to step up in the next couple of games as Walt Gibler, the only other double figure scorer on the squad (12.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg) has been sidelined indefinitely with a shoulder injury.

Valparaiso tried to shoot itself out of deficit against Loyola-Marymount but failed by taking a 61-53 loss. The Crusaders went just 37.5 percent from the field in the game and had made more three points (10) than field goals within the arc (8) in the game. Valparaiso was also dominated in the paint as the Crusaders had a deficit of 37-23 on the boards.

Along with a better record, Valparaiso has enjoyed a markedly superior offense than Loyola-Chicago as the Crusaders are scoring 69.7 points per game this season while leading the conference in both assists (14.1 apg) and field goal percentage (47.3 FG%). Teams have thus needed to score more to keep pace which atones for the squads 66.2 points allowed per game average. On an individual level the Crusaders have been led by the stellar play of Ryan Broekhoff this season who is third in the conference in scoring (15.0 ppg) and first in rebounding (8.3 rpg). Broekhoff kept his scoring up in the loss on Friday by putting in 16 points but was held ineffective on the boards with just three. Is is the second straight game he has had three or fewer rebounds. For the second time in three games the Crusaders were without junior forward Kevin Van Wijk (14.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) who is still suffering from a knee injury suffered in a game against Cleveland State earlier this month. Richie Edwards (9.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg) stepped up and scored 17 points to go with five rebounds in Van Wijk's absence.

Valparaiso has its sights squarely set on a regular season Horizon League title and the benefit of hosting the conference tournament. Loyola-Chicago will not be able to stand in the Crusaders' way especially with Van Wijk most likely returning to the starting lineup.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Valparaiso 71, Loyola-Chicago 56

02/21 10:43:07 ET