Cleveland State (20-10) at Valparaiso (17-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 1, 4 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) -- Valparaiso, Indiana. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: CSU 12-3, Valpo 11-4. Away Record: CSU 8-7, Valpo 5-9. Neutral Record: CSU 0-0, Valpo 1-0. Conference Record: CSU 11-4, Valpo 9-6. Series Record: Cleveland State leads, 29-13.
GAME NOTES: The Cleveland State Vikings will conclude their regular season slate on Saturday as they visit the Athletics-Recreation Center for a Horizon League tilt against the Valparaiso Crusaders.
The Vikings notched their ninth win in 10 games on Tuesday with a 70-69 overtime victory over Youngstown State. The triumph improved the team to an 11-4 conference record and locked it into a No. 2 seed in the upcoming Horizon League Tournament. Coach Gary Waters has guided CSU to an 8-7 record in away games. The Vikings' decision over the Penguins gave them their 20th win of the campaign, marking the third time in four years they have collected 20 victories.
Coach Bryce Drew's Crusaders fell to a 9-6 conference record on Tuesday with a 67-58 loss at Wright State. Valparaiso is tied with Wright State for third in the conference standings, but the Raiders won both head-to-head matchups and face the last place Illinois-Chicago Flames in their finale. A fourth place finish would be an impressive feat for the defending Horizon League champions considering 42.1 percent of their total minutes have been played by freshmen.
The Vikings own a 29-13 all-time lead in their rivalry with Valparaiso. CSU has lost its last four games versus Valpo at the ARC, but it coasted to a 69-50 win over the Crusaders when these schools met in Cleveland earlier this season.
Anton Grady played a huge role in CSU's win over the Penguins, which granted it a bye to the semifinals of the HL Tournament. Not only did the 6-foot-8 sophomore forward finish with 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists, but he also blocked YSU's Kendrick Perry on the final play of the game to seal the win. Sophomore guard Bryn Forbes scored a game-high 15 points with the help of a 3-of-6 clip from 3-point range. Forbes, who averages a team-high 15.9 ppg, has already connected on a CSU single-season record 73 attempts from behind the 3-point line. Charlie Lee contributed 10 points, six boards and five assists, while Trey Lewis (13.3 ppg) netted 10 points. Jon Harris (10.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) will be looking to bounce back after being held to only four points on 1-of-7 efficiency from the floor by YSU.
Valpo's inexperience hurt it versus WSU as it turned the ball over 20 times to the defensive-minded Raiders. Nine different Crusaders contributed in the scoring column, led by rookie forward Alec Peters's 11 points. Starting center Vashil Fernandez made all four of his field-goal attempts for 10 points, which he accompanied with five boards and three blocks. Senior guard LaVonte Dority, who averages 16.3 ppg, was limited to six points on 2-of-8 shooting from the field.
Although CSU is locked into the second seed in the conference tourney, every game is important when it comes to postseason tournament consideration. The Vikings had no trouble with Valpo in the first bout between these schools and are clearly the better team on paper. Dority has made only 9-of-30 field goal attempts over his past three games, however it is highly unlikely his effort will be lacking on Senior Day.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Valparaiso 68, Cleveland State 66
03/01 11:18:22 ET