Date: Saturday, December 21
Time: 7:00pm CDT
All-Time Series: First Matchup
2019-20 Record: 7-5
Head Coach: Matt Lottich (4th season, 61-49)
Valparaiso has a history of being a strong mid-major program. However, since moving to the Missouri Valley conference, the Crusaders have not had the same level of success. In Matt Lottich’s first season, Valpo was still a part of the Horizon League and won the regular season title. The 5 years before that from 2011-2016, Valpo had five straight winning seasons. Historically, Valpo is a winning program, but coming into to 2019-20 Valpo has had 2 straight losing seasons.
Javon Freeman-Liberty has been outstanding this season. He is averaging 21.8ppg. Valpo senior wing Ryan Fazekas was second leading scorer before took him after two games. It is unlikely he will play against the Hogs. Valpo has played eight of their 12 games away from home. A tough environment will not surprise. Arkansas may be the toughest team they have played so far.
2019-20 Record: 9-1
Head Coach: Eric Musselman (1st season)
The Hogs are recovering from finals heading into the neutral court matchup in North Little Rock. Head Coach Eric Musselman will experience Central Arkansas’ love for the Hogs for the first time as the Head Hog. Arkansas cannot let this be a trap game with the Indiana game looming.
The offense was incredible from the get go last week. Mason Jones is coming off a historic performance in Arkansas history. His 41 points last Saturday against Tulsa will be remembered for years. Isaiah Joe scored 20 as he appears to be getting back on track.
We will see if the Hogs can continue the momentum with the offense going forward. It is no secret that the offense has not been very good this year.
Valpo can really score the ball, but they give up a lot of points too. It would not be surprising for it to become the same type of game we saw against Tulsa.
Valpo does have more size than most of the teams Arkansas has played, but Arkansas just has too much talent for the Crusaders.