Milwaukee (18-13) vs. Valparaiso (18-14)
GAME NOTES: The later of the two second-round Horizon League Tournament contests Friday will feature the fifth-seeded Milwaukee Panthers taking on the fourth-seeded Valparaiso Crusaders at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
The winner of this game will take on top-seeded Green Bay in the semifinals on Saturday.
Milwaukee defeated Detroit in first-round action on Tuesday, 83-73, at Milwaukee. It was the second win in a row for the Panthers, who took down the same Detroit team to end their regular season schedule. Still, the Panthers have lost four of their last six games.
Defending Horizon League champion Valparaiso didn't have much of an issue taking down the troubled Illinois-Chicago Flames on Tuesday in first-round play, 73-63. The win snapped a two-game skid for the Crusaders, who have lost three of their last five games altogether.
Valpo leads the all-time series between the two programs, 16-11. The Crusaders were victorious in both regular-season matchups with the Panthers, including a 77-62 win on Feb. 15 in the most recent meeting.
Milwaukee built itself a big lead over Detroit in the Tuesday matchup, leading by as many as 21 points before allowing the Titans to catch up just a bit. Jordan Aaron, who was suspended in the final few regular season contest, scored 16 points to pace the Panthers in the win with six assists. Steve McWhorter contributed 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists, Kyle Kelm scored 13, Cody Wichmann chipped in 12 and JeVon Lyle added 11 points off the bench. Milwaukee shot 51 percent from the floor in the contest.
Aaron paces the team with a 14.2 ppg average, connecting on 38.5 percent of his shots from the field. Kelm adds 12.4 ppg on 52.5 percent shooting, and Matt Tiby checks in at third in scoring with 12 ppg and a team-best 6.5 rpg. Austin Arians rounds out the Panthers' double-digit scorers with 10.7 ppg, and McWhorter tops the squad with 121 assists on the season. Milwaukee averages 70.8 ppg through 31 games played, but is giving up 71.3 ppg to its opposition.
Valparaiso opened up a comfortable lead against Illinois-Chicago at the end of the first half, 39-28, and never looked back. The Flames made a bit of a push in the second period to try and catch up, but could only shave one point off the Crusaders' first-half lead. Alec Peters led Valpo in scoring in the contest with 29 points, adding eight rebounds and two steals to his stat line. LaVonte Dority contributed 12 points and three steals to the win, in which Valpo connected on 24-of-38 from the free-throw line.
Dority has been the go-to player for the Crusaders this season, netting a team-high 16 ppg on 45.5 percent shooting from the floor. His 78 assists on the year is second on the team, just one shy of Lexus Williams' 79 total helpers. Peters is the only other Valpo player to average a double-digit point total with 12.5 ppg. Moussa Gueye leads the team in rebounding at 5.1 ppg with a team-high 64 blocked shots. Valparaiso averages 72.7 ppg through 32 contests, but takes pride in its 67.2 ppg scoring defense.
Milwaukee got a significant scoring boost with Aaron back in the lineup, but couldn't do much in the regular season to unseat the defending champions. The fact that Milwaukee gives up over 71 ppg doesn't bode well for the Panthers against a solid Valpo offense. Even with Aaron in the lineup, the Crusaders will have the advantage on both ends of the floor.
GAME NOTES: The later of the two second-round Horizon League Tournament
contests Friday will feature the fifth-seeded Milwaukee Panthers taking on the
fourth-seeded Valparaiso Crusaders at the Resch Center in Green Bay.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Resch Center (9,877) -- Green Bay, Wisconsin. Television:
Horizon League Network. Home Record: Milwaukee 7-6, Valparaiso 12-5. Away
Record: Milwaukee 8-6, Valparaiso 5-9. Neutral Record: Milwaukee 3-1,
Valparaiso 1-0. Conference Record: Milwaukee 7-9, Valparaiso 9-7. Series
Record: Valparaiso leads, 16-11.Game Date and Time
Friday, March 7, 9:30 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
Valparaiso 75, Milwaukee 68