Valparaiso will face off against UMKC on Sunday at 8:30 p.m. in a rematch of its regular season finale in the first round of the 2007 Mid-Continent Conference Men's Basketball Championship in Tulsa, Okla., the league announced today.
The Crusaders earned the third seed in the tournament by virtue of a 9-5 record in league play. With Saturday's win, Valpo also clinched its 13th winning season in the last 14 years, as the Crusaders enter the tournament with a 16-14 overall record. UMKC received the six seed with a 6-8 record in Mid-Con action and an 11-19 record overall.
Valpo swept the season series from UMKC this year, winning in Kansas City on January 25, 56-52 in overtime, and downing the Kangaroos Saturday night in Valparaiso, 77-61. The two wins improved the Crusaders' record against UMKC in the all-time series to 21-8, including three wins in as many tries in Mid-Con Tournament action. Most recently in the tournament, Valpo downed UMKC in the 2004 semifinals, 90-78.
The winner of the Valpo-UMKC game will face the winner of the game between second-seeded Oakland and seventh-seeded Western Illinois. On the other side of the bracket, top-seeded Oral Roberts faces eighth-seeded Centenary, while the four-five matchup pits IUPUI against Southern Utah.
The Crusaders are led by a quartet of double-figure scorers. Freshman Samuel Haanpaa (Kerava, Finland/Cornerstone [Texas] Christian) paces Valpo with 11.7 points per game. Haanpaa leads the Mid-Con with his 45.2% percentage from 3-point range, and is fourth in the league with 2.5 made 3-pointers per game. Sophomore Urule Igbavboa (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan) is second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.4 ppg. Igbavboa is second in the league in rebounding (7.4 rpg) and double-doubles (nine), and ranks third with a field goal percentage of 55.6%.
Junior Shawn Huff (Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrinne) and sophomore Brandon McPherson (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) each average 11.3 points per game to round out Valpo's top four scorers. Huff is second in the conference with an 88.0% free throw percentage, while McPherson ranks among the league's top-five in assists (3.3 apg, t-5th), 3-point percentage (44.6%, 2nd) and assist/turnover ratio (1.52, 2nd). Sophomore Jake Diebler (Upper Sandusky, Ohio/Upper Sandusky) is among the league's best defensive players, ranking fourth in the Mid-Con with 1.47 steals per contest.
All of the tournament action can be heard live on the Valpo Sports Radio Network (WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso; WEFM, 95.9 FM, Michigan City; WAKE, 1500 AM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Videocasts and live stats are also available at www.mid-con.tv. Live stats are free, while the videocasts cost $4.95 for a single game and $19.95 for the entire tournament, minus the men's championship game, which will be broadcast live on ESPN.