Now that Butler, a recent NCAA Tournament "Cinderella" has left the Horizon League for the comfort of the A-10, is it possible that Valparaiso has transformed into this year's Butler. With a one-point win over league-favorite Detroit, it certainly seems that way. Fans and bracket filler-outers alike should take note of the potentially dangerous team coming out of the Horizon League, the Valparaiso Crusaders.
An up-and-down year thus far has featuring losses to Nebraska, Saint Louis and New Mexico, while wins at Missiouri State, Murray State and most recently, Detroit, Valpo is a well-tested machine, with most of their toughest tests becoming even tougher on the road, but has now won 4 in a row, and 7 of 8, including a 22-point comeback against Detroit.
The Crusaders, led by a potent frontcourt combination of Ryan Broekhoff (17.1 points, 8.3 rebounds) and Kevin Van Wijk (13.3 points, 5.3 rebounds) present difficult matchups given their ability to score inside and out. Valpo ranks 16th in the country in free-throws made, 30th in effective field-goal percentage and 12th overall in defensive rebounding percentage. These figures could make Valparaiso the next league champion (if their offense is enough to get by current-leader, defensively stingy Wright State) and make them a real threat for an upset in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.