VALPARAISO | Valparaiso men’s basketball has gotten to the point where a nationally televised game doesn’t move the needle quite as much as it used to.
On Monday the Crusaders were selected for a fourth appearance on the ESPN BracketBuster. They will host Eastern Kentucky on Saturday, Feb. 23 at noon.
The game will be broadcast on ESPNU and is the seventh VU game this season to air on an ESPN network.
Valparaiso has normally held viewing parties with the team for the selection show, but Monday’s announcement came with little fanfare for the Crusaders.
“Part of that is that we have a game tomorrow and the guys are focused in on UIC,” coach Bryce Drew said. “We’re excited for our players and excited for our fans to have another opportunity to play on national television.
Valparaiso is 2-1 in televised BracketBuster games, having beaten Miami (Ohio) in double overtime in 2008 and Missouri State at home in front of Dick Vitale in 2011. The Crusaders lost at Loyola Marymount last season.
The Colonels (17-6) are members of the Ohio Valley Conference and feature Von Steuben product Mike DiNunno (15.9 ppg). Eastern Kentucky and Valparaiso have one mutual opponent this year as each team defeated Murray State.
The contest with Eastern Kentucky will mark the final BracketBuster game as the series will be discontinued following this year. Valparaiso will host Loyola Marymount next year in a return game from last season’s meetings.
“I’m kind of torn about it,” Drew said. “Some of the complaints have come from a team that loses late in the year and it hurts their chances to get into the NCAA tournament. At the same time, it gives you a chance to get a good nonconference home game.”
Some of the Valparaiso players passed through Schrage Hall after dinner on Monday night and did nothing more than shrug when told of the opponent.
“We’ll approach that game as we get closer to it, but right now we’re concentrating on conference games,” senior Ryan Broekhoff said.