VALPO (20-10) at IOWA (15-13)
WHEN: Monday, March 17 - 8 p.m. CST
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa
TV: - ESPN
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 20-10 in his 1st season. Iowa is led by Steve Alford, who has a career mark of 227-134 in his 12th season.
SERIES RECORD: First Meeting
LAST GAME: Valpo lost to IUPUI 66-64 last Tuesday in the Mid-Continent Tournament Championship Game. Iowa lost to Ohio State 66-64 in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago.
Valpo (20-10) travels to play Iowa (15-13) on Monday at 8 p.m. CST in the NIT on ESPN. The appearance is Valpo's first-ever on the ESPN flagship. Valpo, the Mid-Continent Conference Regular Season Champion, finished the season winning 15 of its last 18 games. The Crusaders fell to IUPUI 66-64 last Tuesday in the Mid-Con Tournament Championship game on a shot with one second left. The Hawkeyes compiled a 7-9 record in the Big Ten, losing to Ohio State 66-64 in the first round of the conference tournament in Chicago.
CHAMPIONSHIP RUN NATION'S BEST: By winning eight of the last nine Mid-Con regular season titles, Valpo has won the most championships of any school in the nation during that span.
20th WIN FOR 9th TIME: The Crusaders have won 20-or-more games in nine of the last 10 seasons. During that span, Valpo has compiled a 219-92 record - a .706 winning percentage.
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 16.8 ppg. Valpo’s all-time leader in blocked shots (227), the native of Riga, Latvia stands second in the league with 1.9 per game (56 in 30 games). Grafs also ranks fifth in the Mid-Con in field goal percentage (.559) and eighth in rebounding (5.9 pg.). Grafs stands fourth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,612 points, third in rebounding (836) and seventh in steals (141). 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 (13.6 ppg.), seventh in rebounding (5.8 pg.) and third in steals (1.7 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, averages 9.2 ppg. and 5.7 rpg. The native of Luanda, Angola stands seventh in league in field goal percentage (.528) and ninth in rebounding (5.7 pg.).