#1 VALPO (15-12, 11-5) vs. #8 OAKLAND (13-16, 6-10)
WHEN: Sunday, March 7 - noon CST
WHERE: Kemper Arena, Kansas City, Missouri
RADIO: WEFM (95.9, Michigan City), WVUR-FM (95.1, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow and Ed Schillinger announcing.
THE COACHES: Valparaiso is guided by Homer Drew, who has a career record of 520-318 in his 27th season and a record at Valpo of 251-196 in his 15th season. Oakland is led by Greg Kampe, who has a career mark of 336-235 in his 20th season and a record at Oakland of 336-235 in his 20th season.
SERIES RECORD: Valpo leads 12-0
2004 MEETINGS: Valpo is 2-0 vs. Oakland this season.
Jan. 3 - Valpo won 79-76 at Oakland
Jan. 29 - Valpo won 77-72 in Valparaiso
LAST GAME: Valpo defeated Chicago State 74-66 on Tuesday in Valparaiso. Oakland defeated Western Illinois 88-59 on Feb. 28 in Rochester, Michigan.
NEXT UP: The winner of the Valpo-Oakland game advances to Monday's semifinals at 6 p.m. against the Oral Roberts-UMKC winner. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net.
Valpo, the regular season champion and #1 seed, will face #8 seed Oakland on Sunday at noon in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament. The Crusaders (15-12) defeated the Golden Grizzlies (13-16) in both meetings during the season. Valpo won 79-76 at Oakland on Jan. 3 as Dan Oppland scored a career-high 23 points and Ali Berdiel added 20. On Jan. 29 at Valpo, the Crusaders bested Oakland 77-72 as seniors Kikas Gomes and Roberto Nieves netted 16 points each.
MID-CON TOURNEY BRACKETS: Following the Valpo-Oakland game on Sunday, #4 Oral Roberts will play #5 UMKC at 2:30 p.m., #2 IUPUI battles #7 Southern Utah at 6 p.m., and #3 Centenary opposes # 6 Chicago State at 8:30 p.m. The Valpo-Oakland winner faces the ORU-UMKC winner in Monday's semifinals at 6 p.m., while the IUPUI-SUU winner plays the Centenary-CSU winner at 8:30 p.m.. The semifinals will be televised on Fox Sports Net. The championship will be Tuesday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. The tournament champion will claim an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
VALPO SEEKING 8th TOURNAMENT TITLE: Valpo has captured seven Mid-Con Tournament titles - all in the last nine years. The Crusaders have appeared in nine straight conference tournament championship games - the only school in the nation to accomplish this feat during this span. Since 1995, Valpo owns a 22-2 record in Mid-Con Tournament games, including a 20-1 mark under the guidance of head coach Homer Drew.
GOMES NEEDS 12 TO REACH 1,000-POINT MILESTONE: Kikas Gomes, a Second Team All-Mid-Con selection, is approaching the 1,000-point milestone in his three-plus years career. The senior from Angola, who averages 12.6 ppg., has scored 988 points. Gomes is also climbing Valpo's all-time blocked shots list, ranking 3rd with 108. With 673 career rebounds, Gomes stands 8th on Valpo's all-time list and needs 9 to move into 7th. He leads the Mid-Con in blocked shots (1.89 pg., 51 in 27 games) and stands 2nd in rebounding (9.0 pg.) through March 6. Gomes, who has 12 double-doubles on the season, has blocked 29 shots over the last 14 games.
DAN OPPLAND CONTINUES STELLAR PLAY: Sophomore Dan Oppland, a Second Team All-Mid-Con selection, has been particularly red-hot in the last portion of the season. The 6'8" forward, who leads the team in scoring (15.4 ppg.), has tallied double-figure points in 25 of the 27 games and grabbed twin-digit rebounds six times. He has been impressive in Mid-Con games, averaging 17.1 ppg. and shooting .568 from the field. Oppland stands 2nd overall in the Mid-Con in offensive rebounding (3.22 pg.), 3rd in field goal percentage (.541), 6th in rebounding (7.2 pg.), 8th in free throw percentage (.776) and 9th in scoring.
BERDIEL 16th NATIONALLY IN ASSISTS: Ali Berdiel, a Second Team All-Mid-Con selection, ranks 16th in the nation in assists (5.96 pg.) through March 1. The junior has vaulted up Valpo's all-time charts in assists and steals. Berdiel ranks 4th in assists with 365 and 9th in steals with 137. This season, Berdiel ranks 2nd in the Mid-Con in assists and 3rd in steals (1.81 pg.).