What can we expect from Alec Peters?
The virtually indestructible star forward started the first 134 games of his Crusader career before an unknown lower leg injury kept him from participating in the final weekend of the regular season. Peters was spotted on crutches in Valpo’s 82-78 loss at Northern Kentucky last Sunday.
Peters’ injury has been classified as day-to-day, per Valparaiso University, and as of Tuesday, there are no new updates on his status.
“We don’t have any updates on Alec yet,” coach Matt Lottich said on Tuesday. “Nothing yet. So we’re hoping for good news.”
What can we expect from the Crusaders if they are forced to play without Peters?
Valpo has barely been tested without its leading scorer and rebounder. Over four years, the Crusaders’ last two games were the only ones that the team has played without Peters. Friday night the team survived a tall test at Wright State, yet fell just short of securing a No. 1 seed in Sunday’s defeat. Both games saw nice showings from guards Tevonn Walker, Lexus Williams and Shane Hammink, who all adapted to shouldering the scoring load needed in Peters’ absence. Without Peters, however, the Crusaders are Motor City Madness’ biggest mystery.
How might the changes to the men’s brackets impact conference tournament play?
Last year as a No. 1 seed, the Valpo men’s team didn’t play its first game until Monday night in the league’s semifinal. Meanwhile the Green Bay team it lost to picked up momentum from notching a pair of victories against lower seeded teams prior to entering the semi final. This year as a No. 2 seed, the Crusaders will have a chance to beat a lower-seeded team, and with a win rest up on Sunday while the 3-6 seeds slug it out with the winning teams being forced to play three days in a row. At the same time however, Valpo will need to win three games in four days in order to secure an NCAA Tournament bid, which could also be a more difficult challenge.
“I don’t really care too much,” Lottich said. “I think for us it’s just something we gotta do and something we can’t control. So we’re going to go out there and play as hard as we can.”
What team will present the greatest challenge to the men’s team?
The Crusaders’ four conference losses is the team’s most among the their three straight finishes as Horizon League regular season champions. Two years ago Valpo fought off an early scare from Cleveland State (winning 60-55) and beat Green Bay by double digits (54-44) en route to being conference tournament champions. Last year despite beating Green Bay twice in the regular season, Valpo was stunned in overtime by the Phoenix.
This time around, Valpo has shown some vulnerability, as it lost twice to Oakland, once to Green Bay and once to Northern Kentucky. If Valpo advances to the semifinals, it will likely square-up for a rematch with Green Bay. But first it will have to handle business with either Detroit or Milwaukee, two teams that have each played the Crusaders closely this season. Oakland, Northern Kentucky or Wright State could be awaiting Valpo in the championship game, each of which presents its own unique challenge.
How might the changes to the women’s tournament impact postseason play?
The women’s Horizon League Tournament will include the same bracket changes seen in the men’s, and for the first time it will also be played in Detroit. It will be interesting to see how 20 different teams attempt to share the same practice facilities and arena. This could make things more entertaining for the fans, as they will have even more games they can watch each day at the Joe Louis Arena.
The Valpo women’s team will be playing as a No. 9 seed against No. 8 Youngstown State. Last year they were once again a No. 9 seed, but had to play No. 4 Detroit in the first round. The Crusaders pulled off the upset over the Titans, in dramatic fashion, winning 94-91 in overtime. The next day, however, they lost to No. 5 Northern Kentucky.
This year Valpo will start with a match against a lower seed. However, if the Crusaders advance they will find themselves with a much tougher task, sooner, as they will be forced to play No. 1 Green Bay the next day. The new format will likely make it more difficult for low seeds to play deeper into the conference tournament.