WRIGHT STATE RAIDERS (21-11)
at VALPARAISO CRUSADERS (25-7)
Horizon League Tournament - Championship Game
Tip-off: Tuesday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Valparaiso -7.5, Total: 121.5
A pair of teams coming off buzzer-beating wins in the Horizon League semifinals will play for the conference crown and trip to the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday when top-seeded Valparaiso hosts third-seeded Wright State.
Wright State needed a step-back, baseline jumper from Miles Dixon as the final buzzer sounded on Saturday to outlast Detroit, 56-54. And despite being favored by 9.5 points on their home floor, the Crusaders were on the brink of elimination before Ryan Broekhoff drained a fall-away three-pointer at the buzzer on Saturday to outlast Green Bay, 70-69. The Raiders are now 13-5 ATS (72%) in non-home games this season, including 10-4 ATS (71%) in true road games. Valparaiso is 15-2 SU (8-6 ATS) at home and a strong 15-9 ATS (63%) when favored this season. These schools have already met twice this season, with both ending in relatively close wins for Valpo, 69-63 at home on Jan. 19 and 68-61 on the road on Feb. 12. The Crusaders have now won five of the past six meetings SU with the Raiders, but Wright State is 3-1-1 ATS in the past five matchups.
Can Valpo capture the Horizon League title and cover the moderate spread on Tuesday night? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts are 64% ATS (23-13) in the past three days, with StatFox Gary going 4-1 ATS, StatFox Brian posting a 6-2 ATS mark and StatFox Dave at 6-4 ATS since Friday. Gary remains hot with a 65% ATS mark (15-8) since Feb. 27 to improve to 55.1% ATS (102-83-4) for college basketball Best Bets this season. StatFox Dave is 57% ATS (17-13) since Feb. 28, and 52% ATS (163-152-5) for the season.
Wright State does not have an explosive offense, averaging just 61.9 PPG (296th in nation) on 43.6% FG (164th in D-I), and this is not a team that dominates the glass either with a paltry 30.6 RPG (318th in nation). But the Raiders know how to guard people all over the floor, allowing just 58.1 PPG (18th in nation) and don't make many mistakes with a +2.9 turnover margin this season. This is a very deep team with 10 players logging 13+ minutes and nobody getting more than 30 MPG. Junior PF Cole Darling (11.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG) is the team's only double-digit scorer, but he has missed the past six games with a foot injury and will not play on Tuesday either. That leaves 5-foot-9 PG Reggie Arceneaux (9.2 PPG, 2.7 APG) as the team's next highest scorer. He has totaled 18 points on 4-of-6 threes in the two conference tournament games, and has averaged 11.5 PPG on 7-of-19 FG in the two losses to Valpo this season. Junior SF Jerran Young (8.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG) leads the team with a 53% FG clip, but plays just 18.7 MPG. He has a total of one point (0-for-4 FG) in 19 minutes versus the Crusaders this season, but has ripped off six straight games with 11+ points, averaging 12.3 PPG on 55% FG. Freshman swingman JT Yoho (6.8 PPG) is the team's best three-point shooter, making 46.3% of his shots from downtown. He has averaged 12.2 PPG on 48% FG (5-of-12 threes) over his past five games, but has been scoreless (0-for-1 FG) in 14 minutes against Valparaiso this season. Junior SG Miles Dixon (8.2 PPG), Saturday's buzzer-beating hero, has been on fire in this tournament with a combined 28 points on 12-of-18 FG (67%) with four steals in the two wins.
Valparaiso, which is 9-1 SU (7-3 ATS) in its past 10 games, is a very unselfish basketball team with 14.0 APG that leads to a hefty 48.8% FG clip, good for 7th-best in the nation. The team scores 72.0 PPG (68th in D-I) for the season, but that number has risen to 77.0 PPG during the current five-game win streak. Despite the big numbers, the Crusaders have only two double-digit scorers in seniors SF Ryan Broekhoff (16.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG) and PF Kevin Van Wijk (12.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG). Broekhoff shoots 44% from three-point range and 88% from the foul line, while Van Wijk has a 65% FG clip and 77% rate from the foul line this season. Broekhoff's Saturday heroics capped off a 25-point night (8-of-13 FG, 5-of-9 threes) that included six rebounds and four assists. He had a dominant performance at home against Wright State on Jan. 19 with 18 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, but made just 3-of-12 shots (1-of-6 threes) when these schools last met on Feb. 12 at Wright State. Van Wijk, who scored 17 points with five boards in just 24 minutes on Saturday, has been a beast in the series with the Crusaders this season, averaging 19.0 PPG on 14-of-19 FG (74%) with 8.0 RPG. Junior SG LaVonte Dority (9.2 PPG) is the team's third-leading scorer, but he has played just 19.3 MPG over the past three games, averaging a mere 5.0 PPG on 6-of-17 shooting. Senior PG Erik Buggs (6.3 PPG, 3.8 APG) is a pass-first point guard who has 18 assists and just five turnovers in his past four games to increase his season Ast/TO ratio to 1.54. He is also the team's best perimeter defender with 1.44 steals per game.