It's been a magical ride thus far for Valparaiso's first-year head coach Bryce Drew. Drew took over for his father, Homer, after last season and the Crusaders were tabbed fifth in the Horizon preseason poll. However, led by league Player of the Year Ryan Broekhoff, Valpo has a chance to earn an automatic bid Wednesday night at 9 p.m. with a win over third-seeded Detroit.
The Crusaders won the regular-season title and thus, earned the right to have the league tourney championship contest on its campus at the Athletics-Recreation Center. Valpo got 19 points and 16 boards from Boekhoff and dominated on the glass to knock off Brad Stevens and Butler, 65-46. Detroit is the highest-scoring team in the league and is led by its star point guard Ray McCallum (aka Little Ray), who just happens to be the son of the coach.
McCallum was dominant in the semifinals -- with 26 points, six rebounds and five assists in a 63-58 win over Cleveland State. The Titans will try and snap a streak of five consecutive losses over the past two seasons to Valparaiso -- and will also try and earn their first NCAA tournament bid since 1999.
Drew, who made that magical shot as a player for the program back in 1998 to knock off Ole Miss, will try and get Valpo back dancing for the first time since 2004.
-- Jeff Goodman