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Detroit (17-9) at Valparaiso (20-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,432) -- Valparaiso, Indiana. Television: ESPN or ESPN2. Home Record: Detroit 12-2, Valpo 12-1. Away Record: Detroit 5-7, Valpo 8-5. Neutral Record: Detroit 0-0, Valpo 0-0. Conference Record: Detroit 9-4, Valparaiso 10-2. Series Record: Valparaiso leads, 12-8.
GAME NOTES: The two top teams in the Horizon League are set to square off on Saturday evening, as the Valparaiso Crusaders play host to the Detroit Titans at the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Following a convincing 92-62 victory over Cleveland State on Tuesday night, Detroit has won five of its last six games to climb to 17-9 overall and 10-2 in Horizon League action. Despite their stellar record this season, Detroit has been shaky at best away from home, going just 5-7 in true road games.
Detroit has been chasing Valparaiso for nearly the entire season, as the Crusaders sit at 20-6 overall and 10-2 in conference, and a win here would clinch at least a share of its second straight regular-season Horizon League title. The Crusaders have been especially dominant of late with wins in four straight and 10 of 11, most recently downing Wright State on the road on Tuesday, 68-61. They return to the ARC for this bout, looking to improve on their 12-1 home mark.
Valparaiso overcame an 18-point deficit in the second-half against Detroit on Jan. 17 to capture a thrilling 89-88 victory, improving to 12-8 in the all- time series in the process.
The Titans clearly have the best offensive attack in the Horizon League, averaging 78.8 ppg (sixth in the nation), and their impressive effort continued in the 30-point victory over Cleveland State earlier in the week, as they shot 32-of-72 from the field (.444) and 22-of-26 from the foul line (.846). Nick Minnerath was just two points off his career-high with 34 points to go along with 12 rebounds, and Ray McCallum stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. Jason Calliste scored 19 points, becoming the 38th player in school history to join the 1,000-point club. McCallum has built a strong resume' for Horizon League Player of the year, ranking first in scoring (18.8 ppg) and steals (1.9 spg) and second in assists (4.6 apg) while shooting a lofty 49.9 percent from the field. Minnerath (14.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Calliste (14.2 ppg) are also among the league's top scorers, while Doug Anderson (11.8 ppg) and Juwan Howard, Jr. (9.3 ppg) round out an outstanding and reliable starting lineup that has been the same in all 26 games this season.
The Crusaders ventured away from home the last time out and claimed a seven- point victory by outshooting Wright State from the field, .489 to .418, and by taking full advantage of their trips to the foul line (18-of-20). Kevin Van Wijk tallied 20 points and nine rebounds, which helped make up for the fact that he turned the ball over six times. Matt Kenney was strong off the bench with 15 points, and Ryan Broekhoff chipped in 10 points and three blocks. Although Valpo's scoring offense may not be as strong as Detroit's (71.0 ppg), no team in the league shoots a greater percentage from the floor (.474). It also plays consistent defense, holding opponents to 61.2 ppg. Broekhoff is the team's catalyst with 16.5 ppg, piecing together outstanding percentages from the field (.469), 3-point range (.444), and the free-throw stripe (.892). In addition to being a great scorer, Broekhoff brings 7.9 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.1 spg, and 0.8 bpg to the table as well. Van Wijk (12.9 ppg) has been a solid second- option for the Crusaders, shooting a league-best 63.2 percent from the field.
This one is sure to be a fight from start to finish, but just like it did earlier in the season, Valpo will have the upper hand on Detroit due to its more balanced play, and the home court advantage doesn't hurt either.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Valparaiso 83, Detroit 77
02/16 10:32:33 ET
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