Register Sports Writer
The Colonels (22-6, 11-3 OVC) will be looking for their seventh-straight win when they step out of conference to take on Valparaiso (21-7, 11-3 Horizon) today on the road in an ESPN Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters game.
Tip-off is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. and will be shown on ESPNU. It can also be heard on WCYO 100.7 FM and on EKUSports.com and seen online at WatchESPN.
The Colonels are coming off a blowout win over Austin Peay on Wednesday which tied the school record for wins in a season with the 2004-05 squad.
In that game, EKU shot a season-high 58.6 percent from the floor. The Colonels have shot 50 percent or better in seven of their past 10 games.
EKU now ranks No. 1 in the OVC in scoring defense, allowing 63.7 points per contest.
The Colonels will have a tough test against a senior-laden Crusaders team that is tops in the Horizon League.
Valparaiso is led by 6-foot-7 senior forward Ryan Broekhoff, who enters the game averaging a conference-leading 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
Senior forward Kevin Van Wijk is also averaging double figures for the Crusaders with 12.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.
The Crusaders are averaging 71.6 points per game while giving up 62.5 points per game. Valpo shoots 48 percent from the floor and 37 percent from behind the three-point line, and is out-rebounding its opponents by 4.3 rebounds per contest.
Valparaiso is coming off an 85-76 win over Loyola on Tuesday in a game in which they shot 62 percent in the first half.
This will be the fourth game for the Colonels this season against Mid-Major Top-25 opponents. EKU beat Murray State, (eighth at the time) and lost to Belmont which was ranked eighth and fifth at the time.
The Colonels currently have an NCAA RPI ranking of 68, while Valpo has an RPI of 84.
This will be the fourth meeting between the two schools with EKU holding a 3-1 record in the series.
While the game is not an OVC contest, EKU coach Jeff Neubauer said it is still a big game for the Colonels.
“This game has nothing to do with the OVC standings. It has nothing to do with the seeding in the OVC Tournament, but this is really an important game for our team,” Neubauer said. “To get to play a team of Valpo’s stature, the best team in the Horizon and the most experienced team in the country, to play them on national television is great for our guys. Our guys deserve this opportunity to go up there and compete.”
The two teams have played one common opponent this year. Both have beaten the Racers at Murray State. The Colonels won 77-65 on Jan. 2, while the Crusaders beat the Racers 66-64 on Dec. 29.
Neubauer said he has seen tape of Valparaiso and knows the Colonels are in for a battle, but he knows they are ready for the test.
“This is going to be a heck of a challenge. Valpo is really good. I saw them on film earlier in the year when they went to Murray and beat them and they are very talented,” Neubauer said. “But, this is what our guys want. They want challenges like this and it will be a great test for us here late in the year.”
The Colonels won the only meeting played in Valparaiso, 60-55 in 1984. The two teams last played on Dec. 2, 1985 in Richmond in a game the Colonels won 73-48.