Valparaiso -1.5 at Santa Clara O/U 135
Valparaiso stumbles in here having lost three straight contests which includes a pair of 30+ point losses at Purdue and Northwestern. Up until this stretch, Valpo had been 8-0 against a slew of average to below average opponents which indicates the hit start may have been somewhat fraudulent. The loss of leading scorer Tevonn Walker the past two games (mononucleosis) disrupted the Crusaders offense drastically and his availability for tonight is in question. Matt Lottich went so far as to say his team did not play hard and didn’t look like they were having any fun playing basketball in their 21 turnover performance against Northwestern. Four days to prepare for this game plus the weight of finals week off their minds figures to breed a much better effort tonight.
Herb Sendek’s Santa Clara team has struggled all season with only three non-descript wins and offensive and defensive efficiency rankings of 202 and 255 respectively in the kenpom.com ratings. They’ve allowed at least 49.2% FG shooting in five of their last six games and have shot 39% or worse in half of their contests this season. The ultra-slow tempo half court style offense employed by Sendek makes the going tough for Santa Clara which lacks consistent threats outside of junior G K.J. Feagin. Against the Valparaiso defense which allows just 37.4% from the floor and 28.7% beyond the arc, scoring is likely to be difficult.
Despite the recent slump and the potential subtraction of Walker from the lineup, Valpo seems to have perfectly constructed opponent in front of them tonight. The Crusaders philosophy is very much like that of Santa Clara’s and fundamentally they do everything better which should be the difference here. If Walker is able to go that’s a bonus but they can grind out a win here without him and are definitely worth a look.