Alec Peters had 27 points, nine boards and a pair of blocks, including on a potential game-tying three, as Valparaiso picked up yet another impressive win, knocking off No. 21 Rhode Island, 65-62.
Peters, who entered the game averaging better than 25 points on the season, is one of the best players in the country, not just at the mid-major level, and what makes this result so significant is that it means the Crusaders are in a really good spot to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
Granted, there is a ton of basketball left to be played.
But as of today, Valpo has wins over URI, BYU and Alabama. The Rams figure to contend for the Atlantic 10 title, the Cougars look like a potential tournament team and Alabama plays in the SEC, which means that it should at least be a top 100 win come Selection Sunday. Their only loss? On the road against an Oregon team that you have to figure will end up back in the mix at the top of the Pac-12 come February.
And they still get a chance to swing up at Kentucky in Rupp Arena next week.
I’m not saying that this team is a lock to get an at-large bid, not by any stretch.
But if they beat who they’re supposed to beat, if they take care of business in the Horizon League and falter in their conference tournament, they should find themselves in a really good spot to hear their name called on Selection Sunday.
For a team in a mid-major league, that’s really all you can ask.