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The Valparaiso Crusaders have a record of 16-14 overall, with a pedestrian 9-8 record in the conference. The Crusaders know that their reality currently stands with them having to win the MVC Tournament in order to secure an automatic bid and keep their season alive. Otherwise, this season will go down with a whimper. They enter this game on a two-game winning streak, looking to build momentum right before their tournament.
The Indiana State Sycamores enter this game with a record of 17-11 overall, with a 10-7 record in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Sycamores are one of the most inconsistent teams I’ve ever covered, as they have not once gone without a streak of some kind. They’ve either lost consecutive games or more or went on a winning streak of two or more. This type of inconsistency makes them one of the hardest teams in the nation to predict, as you never know which Sycamores team will show up. For example, they enter this game on a three-game winning streak, covering two of those games. In the previous three games, they went 0-3 and failed to cover in each.
Valparaiso looking to bring a three game streak into the MVC TournamentYou have to give the Crusaders some credit, they played an impressive non-conference schedule in hopes that it would help them in their conference. They played the likes of Saint Louis, Cincinnati, Nevada, and Arkansas, and while they went winless in those games, they gained invaluable experience playing against high-level major teams. While they hoped this would toughen them before conference play, that hasn’t exactly panned out, as their middling 9-8 MVC record leaves them smack in the middle of the conference.
What the Crusaders do have is one of the best players in the mid-major level in Javon Freeman-Liberty. Freeman-Liberty comes into this game with impressive averages of 19.3 points and an even six rebounds per contest. He’s shown the ability to take over games, and in their only meeting with Indiana State to this point, Freeman-Liberty poured in 25 points in a victory.
Indiana State Sycamores looking for their fourth win in a rowThe Indiana State Sycamores started their season 0-4, and while the competition certainly wasn’t a bunch of pushovers, that type of start does nothing to build confidence for the rest of the season. They responded well, however, winning their next eight games. Maybe their tough schedule was beneficial after all. They’re an inconsistent team that can get hot and cold for stretches of the season. Right now, they’re hot and will look to continue their momentum going into the MVC Tournament.
The leading scorer for the Sycamores is Tyreke Key, who comes into this contest averaging just over 16 points per game (16.1). Behind him is Jordan Barnes, who puts in 12.7 points per game, giving Indiana State balance with their top scorers. As a team, this group can get hot from distance, as they shoot over 38% from the three point line. Look for them to target that shot on their home court against Valparaiso.
- Indiana State is 14-12-1 ATS this season
- Indiana State is 7-4 ATS at home this season
- Valparaiso is 18-9-2 ATS this season
- Valparaiso is 6-6-1 ATS in road games this season
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Indiana State must focus their attention on Freeman-Liberty in this game, as the Sophomore lit them up to the tune of 25 points in their last meeting. Valpo won that first meeting, and with the venues changing, I think the result will change. Indiana State comes into this game riding some huge momentum, and they are a team that builds off of that in a big way. Expect Indiana State to play a well-rounded game and secure the huge home victory.
Prediction: Indiana State
Full-Game Total Pick
Neither of these teams exactly lights up the scoreboard, and with this being an important game for each team, I think they will play slow, controlled, and methodical offenses to ensure their chances of getting the best shot. A slow paced game is a recipe for an under to hit, and I believe that’s just what is going to happen in this game.