Two 1-1 Horizon League foes meet tomorrow night in a matchup between two of the conference’s better programs over the last couple seasons. Wright State heads on the road to take on Valparaiso in their home gym. Not only are both sides 1-1 in the conference, they are each 9-8 mid-way through the season with teams beginning to assess where they stand in the postseason picture. Wright State is available as a six-point underdog in this one.
The Crusaders look to bounce back after a loss their last time out on the road against an Oakland team that is new to the conference. Valpo did manage to earn a narrow, five point victory in its conference opener at home against Illinois-Chicago, which projects as one of the weaker Horizon League teams. After an NCAA Tournament appearance last year, where it was eventually ousted in the Round of 64 by Michigan State, Valparaiso brings back a slim chunk of its main core last season. The team is led offensively by senior guard LaVonte Dority, who averages over 15 points per game. Alec Peters has been the brightest spot for Valpo all year as a freshman. The forward is averaging almost 14 points and over five rebounds per game, scoring the ball with great efficiency. As a team, Valpo shoots it very well – scoring all field goals as a 49 percent clip and shooting the deep ball at a very good rate of 40 percent.
Wright State projects to be Valpo’s toughest Horizon League opponent thus far in the short conference season. The Raiders are excellent at slowing the game down to a half court pace and playing very tough defense. Wright State also might have one of the more balanced offensive attacks in the country. Although not a potent attack, Wright State possesses nine players that average over five points per game. Their leading scorer, senior forward AJ Pacher, puts in only 10.5 a game while averaging about five rebounds per. The 6’10” Pacher is one of the most efficient players in the entire country, however, shooting over 68 percent from the field and 41 percent from the land of the three. With a relatively inexperienced front line, Valparaiso could be in for a long night trying to slow down Pacher if he is able to stay on the floor and out of foul trouble and his teammates are able to find him in the post.
I was a little surprised to see Wright State available with six points. Valpo is a very tough out in their own gym but Wright State appears to be the better side in this one. I’m not willing to accept that a home court warrants a full six points.
Free Pick: Wright State +6