Wright State (11-13) at Valparaiso (16-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 4th, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) -- Valparaiso, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: Wright St. 8-5, Valpo 9-2. Away Record: Wright St. 3-7, Valpo 7-6. Neutral Record: Wright St. 0-1, Valpo 0-0. Conference Record: Wright St. 6-6, Valpo 9-3. Series Record: Wright State leads, 11-7.
GAME NOTES: The Valparaiso Crusaders will try continue their ascent in the league standings Saturday, playing host to the Raiders of Wright State in Horizon League action from the Athletics-Recreation Center.
Valparaiso took care of Detroit on Thursday in a 78-73 home triumph, its second straight victory and sixth in seven games overall. The win wasn't without some drama though, as the Crusaders had to battle back from a double- digit deficit early in the second half to prevail. Junior Ryan Broekhoff was at the head of that charge, netting a career-high 26 points on 8-of-9 shooting and six three-pointers without a miss. Valpo was efficient in hitting 54.5 percent of its field goal attempts and an equal percentage from beyond the arc (12-of-22). Richie Edwards was key off the bench with 16 points, as the hosts outscored Detroit 31-19 from the pine.
Wright State had its modest two-game win streak halted on Thursday at Butler with a 64-53 loss. The Raiders fell behind early and never recovered against the hot-shooting Bulldogs, who made 61.9 percent of their field goal attempts in the first half to grab a nine-point advantage. Wright State was also done in by its inability to get to the free-throw line, with just six attempts to Butler's 23. Armond Battle was the lone Raider in double figures with 18 points.
The Raiders won their first encounter with the Crusaders this season, 73-55, on January 8 in Dayton and lead the all-time series, 11-7. The two teams have split the last four meetings in Valparaiso dating back to 2008.
The Crusaders' offense is efficient and methodical with juniors Kevin Van Wijk and Broekhoff leading that effort with identical 15.2 point averages. Van Wijk also leads the Horizon League in field goal percentage at .615 while Broekhoff tops the Horizon charts in rebounding at 8.7 per game. Van Wijk is second on the team in rebounding with 5.3 rpg, while Broekhoff has a 50.4 shooting percentage. Both are also among the league leaders in scoring. It's not surprising then that Valparaiso leads the league in field goal percentage (.476), stands second in scoring (71.6 ppg) and has the league's best rebounding margin at plus-2.6 (34.0-31.5). Jay Harris is as solid as they come off the bench, averaging 10.5 ppg. One area of concern is the defense, which allows 67.8 ppg on 43.5 percent field goal efficiency.
The Raiders on the other hand are near or at the bottom of most offensive categories in the conference. Junior Julius Mays' 14.1 point scoring average does little to help a club that puts up just 58.0 ppg and shoots 39.3 percent from the floor. Reggie Arceneaux does what he can with an 8.6 ppg average but the next best option is Battle's 7.2 ppg. Wright State gets outrebounded 32.8-29.0 on average and gives up 61.0 ppg on 44.5 percent shooting. Battle's 3.9 rebounds per game tops the roster. The Raiders' shooting percentage and rebounding margin are both the lowest in the league.
This one appears to be the classic mismatch with one of the league's best offenses going up against one of its worst. Valpo has its own issues on defense but still figures to win this game with relative ease. At 9-3 in the Horizon League, the Crusaders also may have the chance to grab a share of first place in the league standings.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Valparaiso 77, Wright State 62
02/04 10:54:08 ET