Valparaiso Crusaders vs. Bradley Braves

 MVC Championship Odds: Valparaiso Crusaders vs. Bradley Braves odds

Valparaiso Crusaders Preview

The Valparaiso Crusaders, seeded seventh, are the first team since the Missouri Valley Conference went to the current 10-team format in 1997 to play in the opening round of the conference tournament and reach the title game. Valpo will be making its first championship game appearance in head coach Matt Lottich’s four-year tenure.

During leading scorer Javon Freeman-Liberty’s two-game absence due to mononucleosis last week in the final week of the regular season, freshman Donovan Clay averaged team bests in points per game (16.5) and rebounds per game (6.0). Valpo senior Ryan Fazekas is shooting 50.6 percent from 3-point range at 45 of 89 this season. Freeman-Liberty is back, scoring 29 points with nine rebounds in the Crusaders’ 89-82 win over Missouri State on Saturday.

Bradley Braves Preview

The Bradley Braves, the defending MVP tournament champions and the fourth seed in this year’s bracket, have won seven of their last nine games. Three Braves earned all-conference honors this season — Darrell Brown. Elijah Childs (second team) and Nate Kennell (third team). Brown leads Bradley with 15.3 points and 4.6 assists per game. Childs averages 14.7 points and team-best 8.7 rebounds.

Kennell averages 12.5 points, shooting 44.6 percent from 3-point range. He entered the week ranked seventh in the nation in that category. Bradley is appearing in the MVC title game for the eighth time in its history and has reached the championship in consecutive years for the first time. The Braves are 3-4 in the title game.