Valparaiso University, the two-time defending Mid-Continent Conference regular season and tournament champions, will play host to the 2005 Mid-Con Tournament along with participating in five other regular season tournaments as head coach Carin Avery announced her 2005 schedule on Thursday.
Coming off of their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the Crusaders have a 32-match regular season slate scheduled, beginning with the WMU Fall Kickoff Tournament in Kalamazoo, Mich. on August 27. Valpo will face Central Michigan and tournament-host Western Michigan on opening day.
The following three weekends also have Valpo involved in tournament play. On September 2-3 the Crusaders will travel to Chicago for the Blue Demon Invitational with host DePaul, Evansville, Chicago State, and Belmont.
The Brown and Gold will host the Popcorn Classic on September 9-10 at the Athletics-Recreation Center in the team's home opener. Friday evening the Crusaders will face Saint Louis while battling Drake and Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
Valpo will return to Madison, Wis., the site of the Crusaders' 2004 NCAA Tournament appearance, on September 16-17 for the InnTowner Invitational hosted by Wisconsin. The Crusaders will face a pair of NCAA Tournament teams that advanced to the regional finals in 2004, as both the host Badgers and UCLA were among the final eight teams playing last season. Villanova is also at the tournament.
The Brown and Gold also have non-conference matches scheduled against Illinois-Chicago, Notre Dame, Loyola (Ill.), and IPFW on the slate.
The Crusaders begin defense of their Mid-Con regular season crown on September 23 in Kansas City, Mo. against UMKC. Valpo will play a 14-match conference schedule leading up to the Mid-Con Tournament to be contested at the Athletics-Recreation Center on November 19 and 20. The top four teams during the regular season will battle for the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The weekend following the Mid-Con Tournament the Crusaders will conclude the regular season at the MU Battle for the Bird in Milwaukee, Wis. Valpo will take on Fairfield and host Marquette on November 25 and 26 respectively.
Avery's squad returns 11 letterwinners, including six starters, from the 2004 team that posted a 29-5 record overall, setting a school record for victories in a season. Valpo went a perfect 14-0 in Mid-Continent Conference action last year.