Chicago, Ill. - United Center
2 p.m., ESPNU
Season to Date: Valparaiso enters Saturday's contest with a 3-6 record. The Crusaders won their first two games of the season against Marian and Central Florida, but have dropped six of their last seven. Despite shooting 51.3 percent last Saturday against Miami (Ohio) in Oxford, Valpo lost 62-50.
Big Man in the Middle: Preseason Second Team All-Horizon League selection Urule Igbavboa posted a career-high 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the 68-57 win over Youngstown State on Dec. 4. The 6-foot-8 senior leads Valparaiso in both scoring (10.0 ppg) and rebounding (5.9 rpg).
Sharing the Ball: The Crusaders have relied on a balanced scoring attack this season, as seven different players are averaging between 6.0 and 10.0 points per game. Eight different players have also scored in double figures at least once so far this year, which is impressive considering Valpo is averaging just 61.4 points per contest.
Cold Streaks: Valpo has been plagued with offfensive struggles all season long, highlighted by a 41.7 overall shooting percentage and three performances below 32 percent. The Crusaders hit 19 of their 61 field goal attempts, including just four of their 21 3-pointers, in a 63-46 loss to IPFW on Dec. 10.
Taking On the Best: When Valpo plays North Carolina on Saturday afternoon, it will mark the fifth consecutive year that the Crusaders have taken on the nation's top-ranked program. The Crusaders faced the Tar Heels in ‘07, Ohio State in ‘06, Duke in ‘05 and Illinois ‘04. Valpo is 0-6 all-time against No. 1 teams.
Last Meeting: North Carolina defeated Valparaiso, 90-58, at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill on Dec. 30, 2007. The Crusaders made it competitive early, knotting the game at 37 early in the second half. But the Tar Heels, behind Tyler Hansbrough's 23 points and 13 rebounds, went on a 27-2 run to end any thoughts of an upset.
Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with Valparaiso, 1-0.
Background Location: Valparaiso, Ind. Enrollment: 3,980 Conference: Horizon League Nickname: Crusaders Colors: Brown and Gold Head Coach: Homer Drew Record at VU: 324-254 Last Year: 22-14 (9-9)
Projected Starters: 33 Jake Diebler (6-3, 180, Sr.) – 7.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg 14 Howard Little (6-3, 210, So.) - 7.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg 1 Michael Rogers (6-5, 215, So.) – 9.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg 2 Benjamin Fumey (6-8, 235, So.) - 6.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg 00 Urule Igbavboa (6-8, 230, Sr.) – 10.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg Key Reserves: 15 Erik Buggs (6-0, 150, Fr.) – 6.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg 3 De'Andre Haskins (6-4, 180, Fr.) – 7.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg