Robert Morris (24-10) at Indiana State (18-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 13, 7:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hulman Center (10,200) -- Terre Haute, Indiana. Television: None. CIT Record: Robert Morris 0-0, Indiana State 0-0. Series Record: Indiana State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Northeast Conference meets the Missouri Valley Conference when the Robert Morris Colonials visit Terre Haute to take on the Indiana State Sycamores in the first round of the 2012 CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Robert Morris has advanced to postseason play for the fourth time in the last five years after going 24-10 overall this season. The Colonials finished strong, winning eight of nine, including its first two NEC Tournament games against Monmouth and Wagner to reach their fourth straight title tilt. They ultimately fell to LIU Brooklyn in the championship game, 90-73, thus losing out on an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Indiana State is making its third consecutive appearance in the postseason (CBI 2010, NCAA 2011) for the first time since it accomplished the feat from 1977-79. The Sycamores lay claim to an 18-14 overall record, and although they won their first-round game in the MVC Tournament versus Southern Illinois, they got blown out by nationally-ranked and NCAA Tournament qualifier Wichita State in the quarterfinals, 72-48.
These two teams have met just once before, with Indiana State prevailing in an 87-65 final back on Dec. 3, 1976.
Robert Morris' success this season can be attributed to defensive effort, as it allowed an NEC-low 63.8 ppg on 42.9 percent field goal efficiency. Between Dec. 1 and Jan. 7, it held 11 consecutive opponents under 70 points, a school record. Its offense was far from a detriment, scoring 68.7 ppg while draining the second-most three-pointers in the conference (217) at a 34.9 percent clip. Velton Jones was the straw that stirred the drink for the Colonials, tallying 16.4 ppg, 4.4 apg and 1.9 spg, although he oftentimes struggled from the floor, owning a field goal percentage of just .358. Coron Williams adds 10.7 ppg to the mix and is deadly from beyond the arc at 40.6 percent. Lucky Jones chips in 8.6 ppg and a team-high 6.1 rpg for a team that is consistently strong on the boards (+4.8 rebounding margin).
Indiana State is led by its sophomore stat-stuffer Jake Odum, who was selected to the All-MVC Second Team after averaging 10.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.2 apg and 1.8 spg. Odum recorded a triple-double with 10 points, 10 boards and 12 assists in a win early this season against Fairfield, and tallied a career-high 34 points against Illinois State on Feb. 18. Dwayne Lathan is the Sycamores' leading scorer, putting up 12.5 ppg in hitting 45.9 percent of his total shots. Despite solid production from Odum and Lathan, ISU had the third-worst offense in the MVC this season, netting just 64.4 ppg on 41.9 percent field goal accuracy. The team was able to counter the sub par shooting effort by playing sound defense, yielding only 64.8 ppg.
Though the NEC is far from a power conference, Robert Morris impressed this season by winning some non-conference road games against mid-major competition in La Salle, Duquesne, Youngstown State and Ohio University. If they continue to play the type of basketball they have been bringing to the court the past month and a half, the Colonials can add Indiana State to that list.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Robert Morris 67, Indiana State 64
03/13 10:44:55 ET