Valparaiso has been selected for one of 11 televised games as part of the BracketBusters event and will host Missouri State live on ESPN2 on Saturday, Feb. 19 at 4 p.m.
The Crusaders entered Monday’s selection riding high coming off an 85-79 overtime victory over Butler on Saturday and have now won six of their last seven games. Sitting at 16-6 overall and 8-2 in Horizon League play, good for second place in the league standings, Valpo is led by junior guard Brandon Wood (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo [Highland C.C./Southern Illinois]), who is averaging 16.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game this year.
Fifth-year senior forward Cory Johnson (Duluth, Minn./Duluth East [Iowa State]) helps on the interior with 15.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, while sophomore wing Ryan Broekhoff (Frankston, Victoria, Australia/Australian Institute of Sport) leads the league in 3-point shooting, connecting at a .488 clip from behind the arc, and chips in 10.1 points per game.
“We know very little about Missouri State since we’re in the middle of league play right now,” said Crusader head coach Homer Drew. “We do know that Cuonzo Martin, their head coach, is a former assistant at Purdue and that they’re a defensive-oriented team. The fact they’re on the top of the Missouri Valley shows how good of a team they are. We are excited that the game will be live on ESPN2, because it’s a compliment to what this group of players at Valpo has done so far this year.”
Missouri State owns a 17-5 overall record and is tied atop the MVC standings at 9-2 in conference play. The Bears average nearly 71 points per game while giving up just under 62 per contest, and have three players averaging in double figures this season. Leading the way for Missouri State is junior forward Kyle Weems, who paces the Bears with 16.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
The Crusaders and Bears were former conference rivals in the AMCU, when Missouri State was known as Southwest Missouri State, but have not faced off on the hardwood in over 20 years. This marks the second time that Valpo has earned a TV game as part of the BracketBusters event, as the Crusaders earned a thrilling 99-94 double overtime win over Miami (Ohio) in 2008 on ESPN Classic.
Tickets are on sale now for the BracketBuster matchup on Saturday, Feb. 19 by visiting www.valpoathletics.com/tickets or www.etix.com.
Poll Watch: For the first time in almost nine years, the Crusaders are receiving votes in one of the two major national polls.
Valpo picked up two points in this week’s edition of the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll to be listed among the others receiving votes. The Crusaders are one of two Horizon League squads receiving votes, as Thursday opponent Cleveland State finds itself with nine points in the coaches poll and three points in the Associated Press poll.
Valpo last made an appearance in one of the national polls in March of 2002, accumulating five points in the last poll prior to the NCAA Tournament that season.
Meanwhile, on the mid-major scene, the Crusaders continue to rise in the Mid-Major Top 25, ascending from #22 to a season-best #18 in this week’s poll following the win over Butler.