Valpo's Drew to draw up another W?
In a rematch almost 70 years in the making, Valparaiso and BYU kick off this evening’s slate of NIT action.
These two schools last met in 1949. The Cougars’ (26-10, 13-5 WCC) style, however, falls very much in line with contemporary preferences. Six-foot-6 point guard Kyle Collinsworth uses his incredible height advantage to survey matters up top and then initiate a breakneck offense. According to midmajormadness.com, BYU’s average possession length encompasses 14.5 seconds. Such a formula paid major dividends in last week’s tight wins over Virginia Tech and Creighton.
Conversely, Valpo (29-6, 16-2 Horizon) had little difficulty dispatching Texas Southern, Florida State and St. Mary’s in succession. Junior forward Alec Peters, averaging 25.3 points and 10.3 rebounds over his last eight games, obviously has the goods to engage Collinsworth or West Virginia transfer Chase Fischer (18.3 points per game) in a mano-a-mano shootout. The real difference boils down to the paint. Bryce Drew can deploy arguably the finest DI rim protector around in Vashil Fernandez. The 6-foot-10 Jamaican center’s 111 blocks rank first in the nation.
Under any other circumstances, Collinsworth’s boundless array of skills (he’s the Cougs’ all-time leader in boards and assists) would probably win out. The Crusaders dominated conference play for a reason, though, and should use their patented length and defensive ferocity to Thursday’s championship bout.
TUESDAY NCAA FREE PICK: VALPARAISO -2.5