H-League Will Get Two in NCAA Tourney for First Time Since 2009, as Valpo is More Than Deserving

Valparaiso fans should not feel too sad after their team’s overtime loss in the Horizon League semi-finals to Green Bay. That is because the Crusaders had a great season, essentially clinching an at-large bid in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The other bid will obviously be an automatic one, going to the winner of the Horizon League Tournament final between Green Bay and Wright State. If anybody has any doubt as to Valpo being in the field of 68, let me state the case clearly.

Valpo is 26-6 and finished 16-2 in regular season league play. Prior to the start of conference play, I said that they needed to finish at least 15-3 in league play to secure the automatic bid. Their only two losses were against Wright State, the league’s #3 seed who is a very good team and is playing in the league’s title game. Valpo’s only loss that is a “bad loss” was falling at Ball State by three points. Even though Ball State tied for the regular season MAC West title (with only a 10-8 league record), the MAC is still a weaker conference from top-to-bottom than the Horizon League, and Valpo had no business losing that game. A quality loss for Valpo was when they traveled to Eugene and lost by six points to Oregon, who is currently #8 in the country. Valpo did not have any spectacular non-conference wins. But winning at Rhode Island, Oregon State, and Belmont were all good wins. And their blowout win over Iona suddenly looks good after the Gaels won the MAAC title.

Keep in mind that Valpo is one of the best defensive teams in the nation. They only allow about 61 points per game, which is good for sixth in the nation. Another glaring stat is that Valpo is third in the nation in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to only shoot 37.8% from the field. Stats can and do tell a lot of the story. But the eye-test is important in determining if a team is deserving of a tournament berth, and Valpo certainly passes it. They are so dangerous because they have so many players that can hurt you offensively, as eight players average at least 5.8 ppg. It is known that Alec Peters will lead their charge, as the versatile forward averages nearly 18 ppg and over 8 rpg. But teams still cannot stop him because he can score from the perimeter just as effectively as around the basket. Center Vashil Fernandez leads a great team defense, as he is one of the best shot blockers in the nation.

It is laughable when people think that 4th and 5th place teams from “Power Conferences” are always more deserving to get the Big Dance than the best mid-major teams. But since the H-League is finally getting some much deserved national respect, Valpo should not worry at all when Selection Sunday comes along.

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11 Responses to H-League Will Get Two in NCAA Tourney for First Time Since 2009, as Valpo is More Than Deserving

  1. Gunther Allen says:

    Tim, do you think Oakland has any shot to get in?


  2. Are you an Oakland H8r?


  3. Tim says:

    Hi Gunther. Thanks for reading! Oakland won’t be in the Big Dance, but they still can get their dancing shoes on because they are likely headed to the NIT. For any mid-major, that is still very good tournament with the chance to get to Madison Square Garden if they win 3 games. Worst case scenario, they would play in the College Basketball Invitational. LOL, I’m not an Oakland H8r. Maybe only if they’re playing Detroit Mercy, lol. But even then, I just enjoy the game.


  4. Smitty says:

    Tim it looks like Valpo is sitting on the outside with Joe Lunardi’s latest bracketology. Who do you think needs to loose for them to get back in?


  5. Tim says:

    Hi Smitty. Thanks for reading. I know Lunardi is pretty accurate, but the selection committee still has some discretion of who they can pick. Nobody specifically really needs to lose, they just need to make an educated decision. If they really watch Valpo play, they will see how good they are. It pains me if they take a 6th or 7th place team from a power conference over clearly the top team from a very good mid-major. The Horizon League has become one of the better mid-majors in the country. Also, people need to forget those silly stats for a second and look at the eye-test and see how good Valpo is on court. One of the best defensive teams in the nation! I hope the committee will make a statement and give mid-majors more consideration.


  6. Don Seeko says:

    Valpo is a moving target right now as other conferences play their Tourneys. If more favorites Win, then Valpo chances increase in getting to the Big Dance. With that said, in the last few years the Selection Committee has trended away from mid-majors. I am a bit surprised because mid majors have had success in the Tourney considering being a typical low seed. I thought with Butler’s success that the committee would have seen that as rationale to start giving the benefit of the doubt to mid-majors.


  7. Tim says:

    Hey Don. Mid-majors definitely make the tourney more exciting because they do generally play well, and David-Goliath matchups are fun. Even if Valpo does not get in, it does not change my opinion of how good a team I think they are. I think at this point, they have stated their case: Either the selection committee recognizes them as a very good team and wants them in…or they don’t. If they don’t get in, I expect them to do very well in the NIT and maybe get to Madison Square Garden. I went on Detroit Sports 105.1 on Tuesday afternoon to state my case for Valpo, so hopefully that gives them good vibes in the committee’s minds, lol.


  8. Don Seeko says:

    Wow, not only are you doing web/print media, now you are expanding to radio! Good job.
    With Michigan surprisingly winning in the Big Ten Tourney and Saint Bonaventure losing their Championship game, it will hurt Valpo’s chances.


  9. Tim says:

    Thanks Don! Wow, I was really surprised to hear that about Dery and Sharp. He was the most knowledgeable and easiest to listen to out of any of the guys on that station. I am not sure why 105.1 has to change their shows like every few months. It will be interesting to see what direction they go now. The article in the News said Hunter and Shore. But I would guess that would be temporary because Hunter is not that good at all on the radio.


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