VALPO (0-5) vs. WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE (6-0)
WHEN: Saturday, December 11 - 7:05 p.m. CT
WHERE: ARC, Valparaiso, Indiana
RADIO: WEFM (95.9, Michigan City), WVUR-FM (95.1, Valparaiso) - Todd Ickow and Brent Whitlock announcing.
TV: Comcast Cable - Channel 43 in Valparaiso. Dick Harlan and Paul Curtis announcing. Airs Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 15 at noon.
THE COACHES: Valparaiso is guided by Homer Drew, who has a career record of 523-324 in his 28th season and a record at Valpo of 254-202 in his 16th season. Wisconsin-Milwaukee is led by Bruce Pearl, who has a career mark of 297-78 in his 13th season and a record at UWM of 66-32 in his 4th season.
SERIES RECORD: Valpo leads 6-5
LAST MEETING: 2003-04 - UWM won 86-82 on Dec. 10, 2003 in Valparaiso.
On Saturday night, the Crusaders entertain Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the first of two straight home games at the ARC. Valpo lost an overtime heartbreaker at Indiana State 70-68 on Thursday. Dan Oppland, who swished a 10-foot jumper at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, led the Crusaders with 25 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Seth Colclasure, who played a career-high 32 minutes, added nine points and three assists. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (6-0) won a road game at Saint Louis Tuesday by a 57-47 count.
The series between the Crusaders and Panthers has been hotly contested with Valpo holding a 6-5 edge. UWM won last season's fast-paced meeting 86-82 at the ARC. The two teams feature many of the same players from last year as Ron Howard scored 15 points and Oppland added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Crusaders in last season's game, and Ed McCants and Joah Tucker netted 19 and 14, respectively for the Panthers.
Both Valpo and UWM captured their conference championships a season ago. While the Crusaders were winning their 10th consecutive Mid-Con title, the Panthers were being crowned as Horizon League champs.
VALPO's SCHEDULE: 10th TOUGHEST IN THE NATION: According to the Sagarin Ratings through games of Dec. 9, Valpo's schedule is the 10th most difficult in the nation. Wisconsin-Milwaukee is rated as the 5th best team nationally.
COMING UP: Valpo will host Northwestern State (La.) on Thursday, Dec. 16 at 7:05 p.m. The game is part of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic, in which the first two games of the event are played at host sites. In the second game of the Holiday Classic, Valpo travels to #1-ranked Illinois for a Sunday, Dec. 19 contest.
STUDENTS TO RECEIVE FREE PIZZA THURSDAY: Valpo coach Homer Drew will provide free pizza to all students who attend the Thursday, Dec. 16 game against Northwestern State (La.).
CONFERENCE CHAMPS FLOOD VALPO SCHEDULE: As defending champions of the Mid-Continent Conference, Valpo is facing its share of conference champion opponents. Through their first eight games, the Crusaders oppose five league champions - Cincinnati, Charlotte (both shared Conference USA title in 2004), Duke (ACC), Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Horizon League) and Illinois (Big 10, Dec. 19).