Valparaiso (23-6, 13-3) at Wright State (19-10, 10-6)
When: Friday, Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wright State Nutter Center, Fairborn, Ohio.
Key Storylines: Valpo will need wins Friday and Sunday in order to secure a third-straight regular season conference championship…Valpo won 70-55 on home turf when the two teams last met Jan. 27…Crusaders are 14-15 all-time vs. Wright State.
About the Opponent: Wright State finished the 2015-16 regular season at 13-5 in conference play, worthy of a No. 3 seed in the Horizon League Tournament. The Raiders rode the No. 3 seed all the way to the Horizon League Championship game, where they fell to Green Bay 78-69. Wright State currently sits at 10-5, tied for third in the Horizon League once again, gearing up to attempt another deep playoff run.
Valparaiso Marquee Player: Tevonn Walker contributed 12 points, six rebounds and two assists in the Crusaders’ 70-55 win over Wright State in Jan. He’s averaging 10.9 points and 5.6 rebounds on the season.
Wright State Marquee Player: 6-foot-3 guard Grant Benzinger is the son of World Series champ Todd Benzinger, a first baseman/outfielder that made big contributions to the Cincinnati Reds’ magical 1990 season. The junior has come alive as of late, scoring 26 points, knocking down four triples and grabbing 10 rebounds in an overtime victory over Cleveland State last weekend.
What to Watch For: Wright State beat Valpo twice last season. Valpo regained the upper-hand last time out, but how will things go on the Raiders’ homecourt? And will this be a preview for a Horizon League Tournament game next weekend?
Valparaiso (23-6, 13-3) at Northern Kentucky (19-10, 10-6)
When: Sunday, Feb. 26 at noon.
Where: BB&T Arena, Highland Heights, Kentucky.
Key Storylines: Last game of 2016-17 season for both teams…Many Horizon League Tournament implications on the line…Northern Kentucky (currently fifth) is fighting to grab a Top 4 seed while Valpo would like to lockdown the No. 1 seed and a first round bye.
About the Opponent: In John Brannen’s second season as head coach, Northern Kentucky has greatly overachieved, securing their first winning record since joining Division I play in 2012. Brannen’s second season is also the Norse’s second year in the Horizon League. Their win Tuesday night vs. Wright State ensured the team’s first winning record in Horizon League play.
Valparaiso Marquee Player: Alec Peters will play his final regular season game as a Crusader. Be on the lookout for one more signature performance from the star forward.
Northern Kentucky Marquee Player: Sophomore big man Drew McDonald has put together a nice sophomore campaign, averaging 15.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. He’s fresh off a 14-point, 9-rebound performance from last weekend.
The Quote: “I don’t want to leave empty-handed. Everyone remembers your last year more than anything. I don’t want to leave feeling like I came up short. I want to make the NCAA Tournament. I want to win. And I don’t think that’s crazy. I think that can be done with the team we have.” -Alec Peters