With the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments dominating the headlines and the number of television viewers, the NIT — as usual — has taken its place in the second row, with some fans completely forgetting about the 78-year-old tourney that concludes tonight at Madison Square Garden.
If you’re a hoops fan living in Indiana, this isn’t the year to forget about the NIT.
Let’s hear it for Valpo — the Valparaiso Crusaders, the Horizon League regular season champions who play George Washington University tonight for the NIT championship (7 p.m., ESPN).
The Crusaders (30-6), a No. 1 seed, made it to the championship game by defeating BYU, 72–70, in the semifinals. No. 4 seed George Washington (27-10) beat San Diego State, 65–46, in its semifinal contest.
Valpo, coached by former Crusaders’ star Bryce Drew, won the Horizon League regular season title, finishing 16-2, but lost to Wisconsin Green Bay, 99-92 in overtime, in their first game of the conference tournament.
In the NIT, the Crusaders also have beaten Texas Southern (84-73), Florida State (81-69) and Saint Mary’s (60-44). GWU’s other NIT wins are against Hofstra (82-80), Monmouth (87-71) and Florida (82-77).
Forward Alec Peters, an Honorable Mention All-America selection by the Associated Press, averages 18.4 points a game to lead Valpo’s scoring. The versatile 6-9 junior also averages a team-high 8.4 rebounds and shoots 44.5 percent from three-point land.
Senior guard Keith Carter averages 10.3 points, 4.4 assists and 3.3 rebounds, while 6-2 guard Tevonn Walker contributes 9.0 points and 3.4 rebounds.
The Colonials are led by 6-9 junior Tyler Cavanaugh, who averages 16.9 points and 7.6 rebounds, 6-6 senior Patricio Garino (14.1 points and 4.3 rebounds) and 6-10 senior Kevin Larsen (12.1 points, 8.4 boards and 2.7 assists).
Read a preview about the game from the Valparaiso Athletics website.
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