Men's College Basketball
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Columbia (19-12) at Valparaiso (18-15)

The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 18th, 8:05 p.m. (et).

FACTS & STATS: Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) -- Valparaiso, Indiana. Television: None. CIT Record: Columbia 0-0, Valparaiso 0-1. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.

GAME NOTES: The Columbia Lions are back in the postseason for the first time since 1968, as they make the trip to Indiana to battle the Valparaiso Crusaders in the first round of the sixth annual Tournament.

Just the fourth time that Columbia has played beyond the end of the Ivy League schedule, the team sports a record of 19-12 overall and was an admirable 8-6 in league play. Unfortunately, the Lions are coming off a loss in their last outing, a 74-67 setback to Princeton at home 10 days ago.

As for the Crusaders, members of the Horizon League, they had an opportunity to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by virtue of capturing a conference tournament title last week. The team got off on the right foot with a 73-63 decision over Illinois-Chicago in the first round of the event, but then was tripped by the eventual champion, Milwaukee, in a 74-57 final in the second round on March 7.

Valpo took part in this tournament back in 2011 and was immediately dismissed by Iona, 85-77.

In terms of an all-time series between the programs, this is the third meeting after the squads split the first two encounters. The last matchup was held out in Hawaii in 2001, where the Crusaders cruised to a 71-55 win during the Yahoo! Sports Invitational.

The winner of this meeting will be back in action in the second round against an opponent to be determined.

One of the better defensive squads in the Ivy League, Columbia has held opponents to just 63.5 ppg this season, while the offense drums up a decent 58.3 ppg. Leading the attack is Alex Rosenberg with his 16.2 ppg, thanks in large part to his 43.1 percent accuracy behind the 3-point line. Actually, his presence at the free-throw line was probably even more influential as he knocked down 213-of-258 (.826) shots, while no one else on the roster even stepped to the charity stripe 90 times in those 31 games.

Maodo Lo (14.5 ppg) leads the squad from beyond the arc with his 66 3- pointers, a fact that will certainly come in handy since it appears Grant Mullins (11.7 ppg) will again be absent from the lineup due to issues from a concussion. Isaac Cohen (3.5 ppg) has been a starter in every game and while he doesn't do much from a scoring standpoint, he is tops on the glass with 5.3 rpg and has handed out a team-best 86 assists.

As is the case with Columbia, the Crusaders also pride themselves on having a solid defense as well, having limited foes to just 39.4 percent shooting from the field over the course of 33 outings. Those opponents managed to generate 67.4 ppg, but thanks to an offense that put up 72.2 ppg, Valpo came out on the winning side more often than not. LaVonte Dority tops the scoring list with 16.0 ppg, thanks to not only 43.2 percent accuracy on the outside, but also 84.7 percent effort at the free-throw line. But make no mistake, Dority is just as comfortable handing out the ball (80 assists) as he is letting fly from the floor.

Alec Peters (12.7 ppg) sits second on the unit with 54 3-pointers, nine behind Dority, but in the case of the former he is also responsible for 4.8 rpg which is third on the roster. The team doesn't have anyone clearing more than five boards per contest, but still they are beating teams on the glass by an average of more than four rebounds per game.

Expect a low-scoring affair if nothing else, one that should favor the Crusaders since they are the host school and have just a slightly better offense than Columbia.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Valparaiso 68, Columbia 64

03/18 10:38:46 ET