#1 VALPO (18-9, 12-2) vs. #8 CHICAGO STATE (3-26, 0-14)
WHEN: Sunday, March 9 - noon
WHERE: Kemper Arena, Kansas City, Missouri
TV: - none
RADIO: WEFM (95.9, Michigan City), WVUR-FM (95.1, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow and Ed Schillinger announcing.
THE COACHES: Valparaiso is guided by Scott Drew, who has a career record of 18-9 in his 1st season. Chicago State is led by Kevin Jones, who has a career mark of 0-11 in his 1st season.
SERIES RECORD: Valpo leads 21-1
2003 MEETINGS: Valpo won both games.
1-18-03 - Valpo won 80-48 in Valparaiso.
2-13-03 - Valpo won 81-70 in Chicago.
LAST GAME: Valpo lost to Oral Roberts 89-75 on March 1 in Tulsa. Chicago State lost to IUPUI 67-55 March 1 in Indianapolis.
NEXT UP: The winner of the Valpo-Chicago State game will play the winner of the Oral Roberts-UMKC game on Monday at 6 p.m.
Valpo, which earned the #1 seed in the Mid-Continent Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament by capturing the regular season title, will oppose #8-seed Chicago State in the first round on Sunday at noon at Kansas City’s Kemper Arena. The single-elimination tournament will be held March 9-11 with the champion earning the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Crusaders (18-9, 12-2 Mid-Con) won their 8th regular season championship in the last nine years. Valpo won both games against Chicago State (3-26, 0-14 Mid-Con) this season - 80-48 on Jan. 18 in Valparaiso and 81-70 on Feb. 13 in Chicago.
Following the Valpo-Chicago State contest, other first round games include #4-seed Oral Roberts vs. #5-seed UMKC at 2:15 p.m., #2-seed IUPUI vs. #7-seed Western Illinois at 6 p.m., and #3-seed Oakland vs. #6-seed Southern Utah at 8:15 p.m.
The Valpo-Chicago State winner will play the Oral Roberts-UMKC winner on Monday at 6 p.m. in the semifinals. The IUPUI-Western Illinois winner will play the Oakland-Southern Utah winner on Monday at 8:30 p.m. in the other semifinal. Both semifinals will televised live on Fox Sports Net.
The championship will be Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.
Grafs Earns 1st Team All-Mid-Con; Ortiz Tabbed As Sixth Man of the Year; Gomes Named Honorable Mention
Raitis Grafs was named First Team All-Mid-Con for the third time and Stalin Ortiz was selected as the inaugural Sixth Man of the Year, as well as to the All-Mid-Con Second Team. Kikas Gomes earned Honorable Mention All-Mid-Con status. The All-Mid-Con teams were selected by the league’s coaches and media/SIDs.
Grafs, a 6’11" senior center, ranks fifth among the Mid-Con’s scoring leaders with 16.6 ppg. Valpo’s all-time leader in blocked shots, the native of Riga, Latvia stands second in the league with 1.81 per game (49 in 27 games). Grafs also ranks fifth in the Mid-Con in field goal percentage (.556) and eighth in rebounding (5.7 pg.). Entering the Mid-Con Tournament, Grafs stands fourth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,556 points, third in rebounding (813) and eighth in steals (137). Grafs scored 20-or-more points seven times, including a season-high 29 against Oral Roberts and 28 versus Samford.
Ortiz, a 6’3" senior guard/forward, was very productive in Mid-Con play. In capturing the Sixth Man of the Year Award, Ortiz averaged 16.4 ppg. and 6.4 rpg. in 14 conference games. Overall, the native of Cali, Colombia ranks eighth in the Mid-Con in scoring (13.8 ppg.), seventh in rebounding (5.9 pg.) and third in steals (1.74 pg.). A member of the Mid-Con All-Newcomer Team a year ago, Ortiz scored a career-high 29 points against Charlotte.
Gomes, a 6’9" junior forward, averaged 9.3 ppg. and 5.6 rpg. The native of Luanda, Angola stands seventh in league in field goal percentage (.532) and ninth in rebounding (5.6 pg.).
EARLIEST TITLE-CLINCHER: On Feb. 22, Valpo captured its 8th Mid-Continent Conference regular season championship - all in the last nine years. With two games remaining at the time, the win over IUPUI marked the earliest the Crusaders had clinched the Mid-Con title in school history. By winning the title, Valpo earned the top seed in the Mid-Con Tournament to be held March 9-11 in Kansas City's Kemper Arena.
GRAFS ON THE CHARTS: Raitis Grafs has moved into 4th place on Valpo’s all-time scoring list with 1,556 career points. He remains 3rd on the school’s all-time rebounding list with 813 boards. Already the Crusaders’ all-time blocked shots leader, Grafs now has 220. With 137 career steals, he ranks 8th on Valpo’s all-time list.
ORTIZ STAYS HOT: Stalin Ortiz has averaged 18.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game over the last 13 games. Despite coming off the bench, he has led the Crusaders in scoring six times during that span. Ortiz scored 23 against UMKC and 21 versus IUPUI in the Mid-Con title-clincher.
PASSING LANES: Ali Berdiel and Greg Tonagel have combined to average 10.6 assists per game over the last 14 games. Berdiel has averaged 6.0 assists during that span, while Tonagel has dished out 4.6. Berdiel has averaged 6.2 assists over the last six games.
TONAGEL LEADS MID-CON IN ASSIST/TURNOVER RATIO: Greg Tonagel tops the Mid-Con in assist/turnover ratio through games of March 1. The 6'3" senior has earned a 2.5 ratio, averaging 3.9 assists and 1.6 turnovers per contest.