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Valparaiso at Purdue Preview

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Purdue faces its first in-state opponent of 2020-21

NCAA Basketball: Valparaiso at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Instead of being a homecoming game for Brandon Newman his home is now coming to him. We had our tune-up game against Oakland that produced the desired result. Everything seemed to click and Purdue got multiple made threes from walk-ons in Matt Frost and Jared Wulbrun in a blowout. Now we get a bit of a tougher test in a decent mid-major that has been pretty strong over the last two decades.

Valparaiso Crusaders

From: Valparaiso, IN

Location: West Lafayette, IN

Venue: Mackey Arena (14,240)

Odds: No Line Yet

Date & Time: December 4, 2020, 7pm ET

TV: Big Ten Network

Live Stats: Purdue Sports

Blog Representation: Valpo FanZone

2019-20 Record: 19-16, 9-9 Missouri Valley Confereence

2020-21 Record: 0-2

NCAA Tournament History: 9 appearances, last in 2015. Reached 1998 Sweet 16

Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 16-1

Last Purdue win: 80-50 at Purdue on 12/7/2017

Last Valparaiso win: 114-96 at Valparaiso on 12/22/1965

Coach: Matt Lottich (73-62 in 5th season at Valparaiso)

It was an interesting year for Valpo last year. They suffered a ton of close defeats. They lost by 4 at Cincinnati in overtime, by 4 to Arkansas, and they had three conference losses by 3 points or less. This was a team that played a lot of close games. In the end, they had a shot an at automatic bid because they made a run to the Missouri Valley title game before losing to Bradley 80-66. In one of the strangest series of result they played Evansville, a team that was winless in MVC play, three times. They won all three games, but by 7 points total.

So far this season they have a six point loss at Vanderbilt and a 16 loss at Illinois-Chicago. They also had a game cancelled with something called Trinity International.

Like most schools of Valpo’s size, they do not have a lot of size, so the Trevion Williams-Zach Edey combo is going to be difficult for them to stop. Ben Krikke at 6’9” is their biggest rotation player and he is averaging 12 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. Donovan Clay, a promising sophomore, is averaging a team best 13 points per game, while Mileek McMillan is their third player in double figures at 10 points per game.

For the most part this is a very balanced team. They have six guys averaging over four points per game and Daniel Sackey has distributed the ball well. He averages 7 points and 4 assists per game. Eron Gordon, the younger brother of NBA player Eric Gordon, has landed at Valpo and is averaging 5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as their top rebounder.

Like Oakland, Valparaiso has struggled from three, hitting only 24.5% from long range. That diminishes their chances at an upset significantly. They are not going to find much inside, so bombing away from long range is their best hope. They have also struggled at the line, hitting 54.2% of their free throws.

This has the feeling of another tune-up game, but a bit tougher than Oakland. Valparaiso was a respectable team a year ago and they have taken a major conference team to the wire already. I am not expecting another 43 point blowout win. Valpo has some talent and will be competitive in a decent mid-major program. Purdue should still win.