Akron will play Valparaiso on the road at 8 p.m. Saturday.
A collage of Crusader capsules cometh...
1) If you were older than 12 in 1998, you probably remember "The Shot." No, not
Michael Jordan over
Craig Ehlo. I'm talking about Valpo's
Bryce Drew's miracle
3-pointer that boosted a 13-seed over Ole Miss, a 4-seed. (Considering the situation, score and time remaining, it was similar to
Prayer over Akron in the 2007 MAC Championship.) Drew's 3-pointer was one of the most exciting moments in college basketball history, and Valparaiso's program is still noteworthy more than a decade later because of it.
2) Valparaiso is a private Lutheran college in Indiana, an hour southeast of Chicago. Mapquest.com
says the cities of Akron and Valparaiso are 5 hours and 22 minutes apart. Although I got a kick out of
Elton Alexander publicly
Keith Dambrot for complaining about the drive, I would hate to ride that far for a nonconference game. Then, the Zips have to ride the bus for four hours to Buffalo. Yuck. I hope the Zips have their iPods charged and a good book to read.
3) Despite the opponent's history and relative proximity, Akron got a rotten draw in the BracketBuster. Valpo is 7-20 and 4-12 in the Horizon League. As Dambrot said, RPI is meaningless this season. However, these teams' resumes are not in the same ballpark. It's not like the Horizon League is so much better than the MAC that the Horizon's scrubs should match up evenly with the MAC's elite. I don't know what ESPN was thinking here, except for maybe that the geography and prestige of Valpo would satisfy the Zips.
4) Only 28 teams
in the nation score fewer points than Valpo. Only 10 teams shoot worse from the free throw line than
Homer Drew's Crusaders. Only 10 teams block fewer shots. The team stats are ugly across the board. The Crusaders do play better at home, however. They are 6-5 at Athletics-Recreation Center, compared to 1-15 in road and neutral games.
5) Individually, the team lacks standout players, as well.
Urule Igbavboa, a 6-foot-9 senior, leads the team with 12 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. The Crusaders are sloppy with the ball, but you can blame part of that on training a freshman point guard,
Erik Buggs. Despite being a point guard, Buggs is shooting 38 percent from the free throw line. Statistically, it makes a lot of sense to hack him whenever the Crusaders are in the bonus.
It would take a game like Sunday's for Akron to lose on Saturday. Even with a miserable performance, I can't imagine Valpo scoring more than 60 points. What do you think?