Missouri St and Valparaiso Meet in Key Bracketbuster Game

Missouri St Bears at Valparaiso Crusaders, Athletics Recreation Center, Valparaiso, IN
Saturday, February 19, 2011, 5:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Valpo -2 1/2
Current Line: Valpo -2
Opening Total: 135 1/2
Current Total: 137 1/2
Money Line: Valpo -135 / Missouri St +115

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Missouri St travels to Valparaiso in a key Bracketbuster match-up. The Crusaders are 2 point favorites at home.

These two teams used to be in Mid-Continent Conference together and played regularly from 1967 to 1990. Missouri St leads the overall series 14-3. However, some of the players on both teams weren’t even born in 1990 when the teams last played. This is a crucial game for both teams as they are near of the top of their conferences but need a big win on a national stage to improve their tournament resumes. Missouri St is 21-6 overall and tied for first in the Missouri Valley Conference with Wichita St at 13-3. The Bears are #50 in the RPI and have a strength of schedule of 132. They have wins over Oral Roberts, St. Louis, Northern Iowa, Creighton twice, Wichita St, and Indiana St. They have losses to Tennessee, Tulsa, Oklahoma St, Indiana St,  Northern Iowa and Evansville. The Bears lost by a point to Northern Iowa at home, but otherwise all of their losses are on the road. Missouri St has won 4 straight including a 60-51 home victory over Drake Tuesday night.

Valparaiso is 19-8 overall and 11-4 in the Horizon league, a half game behind Cleveland St. They are 55 in the RPI and have an SOS rank of 100. Valpo has wins over Northern Colorado, Eastern Michigan, Oakland, Ball St, Cleveland St, Wright St twice, Milwaukee, Butler,  and Detroit twice. The Crusaders have losses to Kansas, Ohio, Purdue, Toledo, Butler, Green Bay, Cleveland St, and Milwaukeee. The 79-76 loss at Milwaukee Wednesday night snapped a 3 game winning streak for the Crusaders.

Missouri St is 10-24 ATS after a conference game the last 2 seasons. The Bears are also 6-16 ATS after a conference win the last 3 seasons. Missouri St is 8-19 ATS versus teams with winning records after 15 games or more the last 3 seasons. The Bears are 17-8 in non-conference games over the last two seasons. Valparaiso is 17-6 ATS  after a conference loss the last 3 seasons.

Missouri St has no significant injuries right now. The Bears are outscoring opponents 70-62 on the season. The Bears shoot 46.7% from the field and 38% from 3-point range. MSU opponents are shooting 44.2% from the field. Missouri St shoots 74.7% from the free throw line.  The Bears average 32.7 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +3.3. They average 13.8 assists a game and 10.7 turnovers a game. They force 11.2 turnovers a game on defense. MSU averages 4.7 steals and 3.1 blocks a game. The Bears are led by junior forward Kyle Weems, who leads the team or is tied for the team lead in every statistical category except assists. Weems averages 16.7 points, 7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 0.9 blocks a game. He is also shooting 43.4% from 3-point range. Center Will Creekmore averages 11.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 0.9 blocks a game. Guard Jermaine Mallett averages 11.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3 assists, Guard Nafis Ricks averages 9.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists a game to lead the team.

Valparaiso is also pretty healthy right now. The Crusaders are outscoring opponents 73-66 on the season. Valpo shoots 47.9% from the field and 32.5% from 3-point range. The Crusaders are holding opponents to 41.6% shooting from the field. Valpo only shoots 65.1% from the free throw line. The Crusaders average 34.4 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +0.8. Valparaiso averages 15.8 assists and 13.9 turnovers a game. They force 15.3 turnovers a game on defense. The Crusaders average 8.3 steals and 2.7 blocks a game. Valpo is led by guard Brandon Wood. He is averaging 16.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.8 steals a game. He leads the team, in scoring, assists, and steals. Forward Cory Johnson averages 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists a game. Guard Ryan Broekhoff averages 10.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1 steal, and 1.2 blocks a game to lead the team.. He is shooting 48.6% from 3-point range.   Guard Howard Little averages 9.9 points, 5 rebounds to lead the team, 1.9 assists, and 1.5 steals a game.

Valpo has losses at home to Purdue, a top 10 team nationally, and Green Bay by 2 points. The Crusaders are 10-2 at home this season, while Missouri St is only 6-5 on the road including 0-3 in non-conference games. Missouri St is probably a better team but Valpo is a tough place to play. Both of these teams probably have to win their conference tournaments to gain a bid to the tournament as an RPI 0f 50 or below won’t get the job done. This should be  toss-up as both are  talented.

Our college basketball handicappers are red hot in 2011. Don’t miss out on any more winners this season.

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