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2002 NCAA Tournament Information..
p>Tournament Notes

Valparaiso and Kentucky will be meeting on a basketball court for the first time when they tangle in St. Louis Thursday morning in their first-round game in the NCAA tournament. It will not, however, be Valpo's first game against a Southeastern Conference team. Most memorable perhaps was Valpo's 70-69 victory over Mississippi in the 1998 NCAA tournament. The following year the Crusaders knocked off South Carolina in a season-opening tournament in Indianapolis and the in the 1999-2000 season the Crusaders beat Mississippi State, 68-59, in a tournament in St. Charles, Mo. In earlier seasons, Valpo lost to Vanderbilt and Alabama. Six Southeastern Conference teams are in the NCAA tournament field this year.

The winner of the Valpo-Kentucky game will face the winner of the Marquette-Tulsa game at 4:38 p.m. Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Valpo has not met Tulsa previously and has a 5-18 record against Marquette with the last meeting coming 50 years ago.

Valpo forward Lubos Barton was named to the honorable mention list in voting for The Associated Press All-America team. Kentucky forward Tayshaun Prince was a third team selection. Barton was Player of the Year in the Mid-Continent Conference and Prince was Player of the Year in the Southeastern Conference.

Kentucky earned a share of the Southeastern Conference East Division title with a 10-6 league record and earned an at-large bid to the tournament after bowing in the quarterfinals of the league tournament to South Carolina. Valparaiso won the Mid-Continent Conference regular season title and earned an NCAA tournament berth by capturing the conference tournament title.

Valparaiso is appearing in the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in the past seven years. Kentucky is appearing in the tournament for a national-record 43rd time and for the 11th consecutive year. Kentucky has won its tournament opener for 10 consecutive years.

Kentucky has won six of its last 10 games. Valpo has won 14 of its last 15.

Valpo won a school record 25 games this season, topping the previous mark of 24 set in 1924 and matched in 1997 and last season.

Valparaiso Coach Homer Drew, in his 26th season as a college head coach, notched his 500th victory this season and enters the tournament with a 504-306 career record. Kentucky Coach Tubby Smith has a 254-104 record in 11 season, including a 130-42 mark in five seasons at Kentucky.

See the men's basketball Web site for more pre-game and post-game information.

Tickets available at game site

Tickets for Valpo's game at 11:25 a.m. Thursday against Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA tournament in St. Louis will be available at the ticket office at the Edward Jones Dome, site of the game, on Wednesday and Thursday, March 13 and 14.

The ticket office will be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and beginning at 8 a.m. on Thursday. Single session tickets are $50 each. The other game in Thursday's day session matches Marquette against Tulsa. Thursday's winners play at 4:38 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets for all three sessions being played in St. Louis are $150 each and may be obtained by calling Ticketmaster at 314-241-1888. Thursday night Kansas faces Holy Cross and Stanford faces Western Kentucky. Winners of those two games also will play Saturday.

Pre-game reception in St. Louis

Valpo fans are invited to a pre-game reception prior to the NCAA basketball tournament game against Kentucky. The reception begins at 9:30 a.m. CST at the Millennium Hotel, 200 S. 4th St., St. Louis. Telephone number for the hotel is 314-516-8029.

St. Louis tournament is homecoming for Drew, Nelke

When Valpo opens play in the NCAA tournament Thursday in St. Louis, it will be a homecoming of sorts for Coach Homer Drew and player Mike Nelke.

Drew, who is in his 14th year at Valpo and recently won his 500th game as a college coach, grew up in suburban Webster Groves. Nelke, a sophomore who has appeared in all 32 Valpo games this season, is a graduate of McCluer High School in St. Louis.

The Crusaders (25-7) face the University of Kentucky (20-9) at 11:25 a.m. CST in the Edward Jones Dome in downtown St. Louis. Kentucky is seeded 4th in the East Regional and the Crusaders are seeded 13th. The winner plays in St. Louis at 4:38 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the game matching 5th-seeded Marquette (26-6) against 12th-seeded Tulsa (26-6).

Tickets in the Valpo section are being sold via telephone from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, March 11. All orders must be placed by calling 219-548-7700 and may be purchased with Visa, MasterCard or Discover credit cards. Walk-up sales are not available.

Crusaders face Kentucky

Valparaiso will face the University of Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA tournament Thursday at 11:25 a.m. in St. Louis. The Crusaders (25-7) are seeded 13th in the East Region while Kentucky (20-9) is seeded 4th.

The winner will play in St. Louis again Saturday against the winner of Thursday's other game in St. Louis matching 5th-seeded Marquette (26-6) against 12th-seeded Tulsa (26-6).

Tickets for Valpo's opening game go on sale on campus at 1 p.m. Monday. A limited number of tickets will be available on a predetermined priority by calling 219-548-7700. Purchases must be made using MasterCard, Visa or Discover. All ticket sales will be by phone and there will be no walk-up sales.

Valparaiso University to host NCAA pairings party Sunday

Valparaiso University will host an NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Pairings Party on Sunday in the Athletics-Recreation Center arena. The pairings party is free and open to the public. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. and the pairings will be shown on a big screen TV beginning at 5:30 p.m.

The Valpo men's basketball team, which earned its 6th trip to the NCAA Tournament by capturing the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament title, will be in attendance. Free refreshments will be provided. Mid-Continent Champion T-shirts will be available for purchase.

NCAA tickets on sale Monday

Valpo earned an automatic berth in the NCAA men's basketball championships by virtue of its 88-55 victory over IUPUI in the finals of the Mid-Continent Conference tournament. It will be the sixth NCAA tournament appearance in the last seven years for the Crusaders, who also won the Mid-Con regular-season title and have a 25-7 record.

Opponent and site for Valpo's first-round game will be announced Sunday.

The University will have a limited number of NCAA tickets available for various groups, including season ticket holders, students, faculty and staff. Ticket orders will be accepted beginning at 1 p.m. Monday, March 11, by calling 219-548-7700.

The women's team, which captured the Mid-Con's regular-season title before falling to Oakland in the tournament finals, will learn Sunday if it receives an invitation to the WNIT tournament



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