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JEFF ALLEN GAME PREVIEW: ST MARY’S at VALPO

JEFF ALLEN GAME PREVIEW: ST MARY’S at VALPO

NIT quarterfinal action tips off tonight as the Gaels of St Mary’s (29-5) travel to the Athletics-Recreation Center, in Valparaiso, Indiana to face the (28-6) Valpo Crusaders. St Mary’s has reached this point by beating Georgia and New Mexico State on their home floor. Valpo is here by virtue of home wins over Texas Southern and Florida State. There has been heavy action on this game thanks to the short card. Valpo opened as a -4 point favorite but the number has dropped to -3 thanks to an influx of St Mary’s money. The total opened at 128 and has been bet all the way up to 133.

Randy Bennett has done a great job with this team despite not getting into the Big Dance. As usual, Bennett has a nice infusion of Aussie talent which has helped this young team come together more quickly as they were already familiar with each other from the Roo National squads. Emmet Naar (14.3, 3.2, 6.7) leads the team in scoring and runs the show from the point. He shoots better than 48% from the field and better than 43% from downtown.

This was going to be the year for Bryce Drew’s Valpo squad and other than losing the Horizon League tournament, the Crusaders have not disappointed. They were the No.31 most experienced team entering the season and for the most part have taken care of their business. Alec Peters (18.5, 8.4, 1.1) is 6’9″ 230 pond forward who is a deadly outside shooter that knocks down threes at better than 45%.

Other than a second half late melt down by St Mary’s in their opening round game against New Mexico State, both teams have won impressively and appear to be suffering no letdown of playing in the NIT. St Mary’s has won ten of 11 with their only loss to Gonzaga (a team they beat twice in the regular season). This is their first true road game in 24 days. Valpo has won 13 of 15 and this could be the last hurrah for the Crusaders with their seniors and coach Drew who has been tied to several open jobs despite his Valpo roots. The boat has apparently sailed on the total but
we still might be inclined to grab the points with the visitors in what figures to be a very evenly matched game.

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