Valpo's postseason crusade back on
A stunning loss to Green Bay in the Horizon League tournament vanquished Valparaiso’s NCAA dreams, but it definitely didn’t diminish the Crusaders’ general postseason ambitions.
Bryce Drew’s team helps kick off the NIT with a 9:15 p.m. ET matchup against No. 8 seed Texas Southern (18-14). The Tigers experienced their own heartbreak in SWAC competition, dropping an 81-73 verdict to Southern in the semifinals.
Oddsmakers hardly view tonight’s showdown as a fair fight. Per online sports book BetDSI, Valpo (26-6) embodies a 16.5-point favorite at the ARC. Not helping matters: Texas Southern’s 0-3-1 record in its last four games overall.
In the same span, however, Malcolm Riley has singlehandedly attempted to reverse the tide. The Tigers’ senior forward is hotter than ever from beyond the arc. Since Feb. 29, Smith boasts a .545 success rate on treys.
Alec Peters provides the counterpunch on the Valparaiso side. With averages of 28 points and 11 rebounds over the past four contests, the junior just bulldozes opponents in the post.
There’s something troubling, though, about the Crusaders’ recent effort on the defensive end. Green Bay routinely abused them in that 99-92 result one week ago. Moreover, Texas Southern recently threatened the century mark vs. Alabama State and Mississippi Valley State.
Valpo could very well cruise in the second half, but getting there – with a healthy edge – represents a major part of the battle. The Tigers won’t conclude their campaign by getting run out of the building.
TUESDAY NCAA FREE PICK: TEXAS SOUTHERN +16.5