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Eastern Kentucky (22-6) at Valparaiso (21-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 1 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) -- Valparaiso, Indiana. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: EKU 15-1, Valpo 12-2. Away Record: EKU 7-5, Valpo 9-5. Neutral Record: EKU 0-0, Valpo 0-0. Conference Record: EKU 11-3, Valpo 11-3. Series Record: Eastern Kentucky leads, 3-1.
GAME NOTES: Two of the top mid-major teams in the nation are set to square off as the Eastern Kentucky Colonels visit the Valparaiso Crusaders for the BracketBusters event.
The Crusaders and Colonels have a series which dates back almost 90 years, but the two squads have met just four times on the hardwood. Valpo took the first meeting in the series, but EKU has won each of the last three, most recently a 73-48 win in Richmond on Dec. 2, 1985.
After finishing the 2011-12 campaign with a 16-16 overall record, EKU has reinvented itself as an Ohio Valley Conference contender this season. The Colonels extended their current winning streak to six on Wednesday with a 91-53 rout of Austin Peay that lifted them to a 22-6 overall record. This brief trip out of conference play will begin a three-game road trip that will conclude EKU's regular season.
The Colonels tied the program record for most wins in a season with their victory over APSU on Wednesday. Glenn Cosey netted 17 points to pace the team in the contest, while Mike DiNunno showed off his versatility by finishing with seven points, seven rebounds, nine assists and nine steals. EKU hit on 58.6 percent of its field-goal tries and limited the Governors to 36.7 percent field-goal efficiency en route to the lopsided win. EKU went 10-of-23 from beyond the arc versus APSU to mark the eighth time in nine outings where it has drained at least eight shots from long distance.
Bryce Drew's Crusaders managed to bounce back from their second Horizon League loss of the season with an 85-76 victory at Loyola-Chicago on Tuesday. The win lifted Valpo to a 21-7 overall record. Will Bogan led four players in double figures with 16 points against the Ramblers. Matt Kenney and Ryan Broekhoff each added 14 points, while Kevin Van Wijk chipped in with 11 points.
Broekhoff, who leads Valpo with 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per tilt, has been below his scoring and rebounding averages in four consecutive games. Van Wijk, who is second in both scoring (12.8) and rebounding (5.1), has stepped up his effort on the glass to pull down eight boards per tilt over his last three games. The balanced effort that has usually guided the Crusaders to wins is helping them produce 71.6 ppg, which is the second best scoring offense in the Horizon League. Valpo is also the owner of the fifth-best scoring defense at only 62.5 points allowed per tilt.
This is an interesting matchup as EKU's guard-oriented squad faces the Crusaders, who lean heavily on their forwards. The Colonels will have to continue their hot shooting to survive this one as Valpo will have an advantage on the boards.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Valparaiso 72, Eastern Kentucky 67
02/23 10:37:33 ET
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