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Last Tournament Win: 1998
RPI Top 100 Wins: Detroit, Murray State, Eastern Kentucky
Previous Cinderella Rank: No. 8
Current Projected Seed: No. 13
In the past few weeks, the Crusaders have lost a home game to the second-best team in their conference (Detroit) and have annihilated the second-best team from Belmont’s conference (Eastern Kentucky).
Of particular note from the loss to Detroit, a certain trend continued. In each of Valparaiso’s seven losses this season, either Ryan Broekhoff or Kevin Van Wijk—who average a combined 29 PPG—has failed to score more than 10 points. In the loss to Detroit, they both scored exactly 10 points.
Maybe you don’t think it’s rocket science to point out that a team tends to lose when its best scorers don’t score, but it usually doesn’t have an effect quite this direct.
Picking a different seven-loss team at random, La Salle is led by Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren, who average a combined 32 PPG. In five of the Explorers’ seven losses, Galloway and Duren have scored at least 26 points.
Adding one more for good measure, Deshaun Thomas and Lenzell Smith, Jr. average 29.6 PPG for the Ohio State Buckeyes, and have scored 28.3 PPG in their seven losses. This makes more sense than assuming a large scoring decrease, because when you’re trailing, you tend to rely even more heavily on your primary scorers.
However, Valparaiso seems to just give up hope of having its best scorers bring them back into a game, and instead relies on guys like LaVonte Dority and Will Bogan—who don’t have anywhere near the shooting percentage of Broekhoff and Van Wijk.
At any rate, the duo has played well in the three games that Valparaiso has won since that loss to Detroit. In fact, both big men registered a double-double in the win over Youngstown State on Tuesday.
The key to beating Valparaiso is stopping Broekhoff and Van Wijk. Anyone can identify it, but who can execute it in March?