Green Bay (18-14) at Valparaiso (24-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 9, 8:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000)-- Valparaiso, Indiana. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Green Bay 12-3, Valparaiso 14-2. Away Record: Green Bay 4-10, Valparaiso 10-5. Neutral Record: Green Bay 2-1, Valparaiso 0-0. Conference Record: Green Bay 10-6, Valparaiso 13-3. Series Record: Green Bay leads, 26-18.
GAME NOTES: The hosting Valparaiso Crusaders take on the No. 4-seed Green Bay Phoenix with a spot in the Horizon League Tournament Championship game at stake on Saturday.
The Crusaders claimed their first Horizon League regular-season title a season ago, winning the crown by two games. They were unable to translate that success into the conference tourney and ended up in the NIT instead of the Big Dance. Bryce Drew's squad once again claimed the regular season crown in 2012-13 to earn homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. The Crusaders went 14-2 at home this season.
One of the most versatile players in college basketball will be spearheading Valpo's charge. Ryan Broekhoff (15.9 ppg) is not only the top rebounder for Valpo with 7.5 rpg, he is also first on the squad with 43.4 percent shooting behind the 3-point line, adding 66 assists and 25 blocked shots for good measure. Kevin Van Wijk checks in with 12.6 ppg and 5.3 rpg to form a very tough front line. Lavonte Dority and Matt Kenney are valuable role players for Drew, who was named the HL Coach of the Year after his team's stellar performance.
This will be the third postseason game for the Phoenix. First they took down Milwaukee, 62-46, on Tuesday behind strong defensive and rebounding efforts. Green Bay may not have too much left in the tank after its thrilling, 64-63, victory over Loyola-Chicago in Friday's quarterfinal action. The Phoenix went ahead with 1.7 seconds left as Sultan Muhammad drilled a clutch 3-pointer to clinch the win. The Phoenix went 8-of-18 from 3-point range as center Alec Brown led the way with 17 points for the No. 4 seed. The win improved the Phoenix to 18-14 on the season.
Keifer Sykes (15.4 ppg, 4.2 apg) and Brown (13.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) give Green Bay a shot at the upset in this one. Sykes has scored at least 12 points in 13 of his last 14 games. Freshman forward Jordan Fouse will also help with his rebounding abilities as he comes in averaging 7.8 boards per tilt. Fouse managed eight points and nine rebounds in Friday's victory. However, the Phoenix lost both of their regular season matchups with Valpo by double-digit margins.
The Phoenix do have history on their side, as they are 26-18 all-time versus Valpo.
That will most likely not be enough. The Crusaders came up just short last season and Drew made sure not to let them forget that bitter taste of second place. Valpo has an exceptional leader at forward who will propel it into the title game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Valparaiso 73, Green Bay 64
03/09 10:38:53 ET