With both teams coming off great performances versus Big Ten teams, Ohio and Valpo square off in Athens.
When: 2:00 pm ET Sunday (1:00 CT) Where: Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio
Earlier this week Ohio went in into Columbus and stayed put with a top 10 team throughout. On Wednesday, Valparaiso stormed into Champaign and got as close as two points down with 6:43 left in the game, before a Illini run put VU down and out for good.
Both Valpo and Ohio had good seasons last year, with both teams having 10 or less losses each. Let's start with Valpo, Bryce Drew's team lost over 75% of their scoring from last season and in all reality only two players on Valpo's roster that return this season did notable damage for the Crusaders last year (LaVonte Dority and Bobby Capobianco). Keep an eye on LaVonte Dority, Bobby Capobianco, Jordan Coleman, and big men Vashil Fernandez and Moussa Gueye for Valparaiso. The Crusaders also bring in a good amount of height with three players at 6'10 or taller (Vashil Fernandez, Moussa Gueve, and Bobby Capobianco). On the season the Crusaders are 2-1 and Valparaiso has wins this season over fellow mid- major Murray State by 3 and a 63- point win over the NAIA's North Park Vikings before losing to Illinois 64-52. Valpo finished last year at 26-8, winning the Horizon League and losing to Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA tourney.
After going into Value- City Arena and giving Ohio State all it could handle, Ohio comes back to the Convocation Center to meet Valpo on Sunday afternoon. In a 79-69 loss in Columbus to Ohio State, Ohio was led by Nick Kellogg and Stevie Taylor, who had 21 points each, and Maurice Ndour led the Bobcats with 9 rebounds. After being down 40-28 at halftime, Ohio came surging back and would make it a five point game with four minutes left before Aaron Craft and the number 10 Buckeyes put away the Bobcats by quickly taking a 69-60 lead that suffocated Ohio. The Bobcats have been led by their starting five this year, as Ohio's first unit has scored 126 of the Bobcats' 144 points this season.
This game should be dominated by the starters for both teams, and should be a good game for all 40 minutes. Make sure you catch this sneaky- good game on Sunday afternoon.
Final Score Prediction: Valpo 59 Ohio 63
Follow Sam Barloga on Twitter: @BoilerUpSam