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Previous Ranking: 3
It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that Valpo is leading the league in scoring (nearly 80 PPG).
The stat that will get most people's attention is the 64.7 PPG that the Crusaders are giving up, good for fourth in the Horizon League. If Valpo continues to play defense at this level, it will be a difficult team to beat.
More impressive than the offensive production is VU's offensive balance. Every player that sees significant court time is currently averaging better than five PPG. Four players (forwards Cory Johnson and Ryan Broekhoff, as well as guards Brandon Wood and Howard Little) are currently over 10 PPG.
The Crusaders also lead the league in assists, averaging over 16 per game.
As an alumnus, I was really tempted to put Valpo second, given Butler's struggles. However, there are too many major issues that VU must figure out in its remaining OOC games before visiting Hinkle Fieldhouse New Year's Day.
The biggest issue has been slow starts. In three of VU's last five games (all away from home), the Crusaders have allowed teams of equal or inferior talent to jump out to double-digit leads in the first half. VU has managed to battle back in all three (winning two). When Valpo plays the other Horizon League contenders, it cannot allow itself to get down like that.
Though Valpo has been outstanding on offense, it has also been bitten by the turnover bug to the tune of 14-plus per game.
Lastly, senior forward Cory Johnson will have to improve on his 4.2 rebounds per game if VU is to compete for the conference title.