Previewing Valparaiso

Top-ranked North Carolina heads to Chicago for Bobby Frasor's homecoming game as well as its final test before Christmas against the mid-major Valparaiso Crusaders. Tip-off at the United Center is 2 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPNU.

North Carolina (10-0) vs. Valparaiso (3-6)
Chicago, Ill. - United Center
2 p.m., ESPNU

PREGAME NOTES

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

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