Eastern Michigan (22-14) at Columbia (20-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 22, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Levien Gymnasium (12,210) -- New York, New York. Television: None. CIT Record: Eastern Michigan 1-0, Columbia 1-0. Series Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: After both teams barely survived in the first round, the Eastern Michigan Eagles and the Columbia Lions will meet in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament at Levien Gymnasium.
Eastern Michigan made its way to this part of the tourney by holding off Norfolk State (58-54) in Tuesday's opening round. The Eagles have won four of their last five games overall, with a 59-44 loss to Toledo in the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals the only setback in that stretch.
Maodo Lo hit a jumper as the buzzer sounded to lift Columbia to a thrilling 58-56 win over Valparaiso in the first round. The victory came in the first- ever game for the Lions in the CIT, and improved them to 20-12 overall. This marks the first time since the 1969-70 season that they have had 20 wins in a season.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs, with the winner moving on to face an opponent to be determined.
Eastern Michigan was able to hold off Norfolk State due to its superior free- throw shooting. Both teams hit seven 3-pointers and shot around 41 percent from the field, but the Eagles held a 13-7 scoring edge at the free-throw line. Mike Talley hit 4-of-6 foul shots en route to a team-high 14 points.
The Eagles thrive in games where they have to grind out possessions. They are able to have such success in slow-paced games because of their defense, as they are among the top-10 teams in the country in both scoring defense (61.4 ppg) and opponent field goal percentage (.366). In fact, they lead the nation in the latter category. Karrington Ward (12.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg) is the most reliable scorer on the roster, sinking 43.8 percent of his shots from the field. Talley (10.3 ppg) and Raven Lee (10.1 ppg) are each counted on, but are netting less than 40 percent from the field.
With a little more than a minute left in the game against Valpo, Cory Osetkowski hit a jumper to push Columbia ahead by a point (56-55). However, the Lions were tied with the Crusaders in the final seconds, following split free-throws from Vashil Fernandez, but Lo saved the day with his game-winner.
Columbia won't be easily thrown off by the style of play Eastern Michigan will try to implement. The Lions are only allowing 63.2 ppg on 42.5 percent shooting. Their offensive production has also illustrated the slow pace at which they play, with the team averaging a modest 68 ppg on 44.5 percent shooting. Alex Rosenberg (15.9 ppg) and Lo (14.5 ppg) are easily the most important scorers on the roster, with Lo sinking 47.6 percent from the floor and Rosenberg turning in a 43.7 percent effort on the campaign. However, against Valparaiso, Osetkowski (7.4 ppg) was the leader with his game-high 21 points.
Both of these teams should be comfortable in a slow-moving contest. However, the Eagles force the issue more on defense and should be able to produce a win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Michigan 66, Columbia 60
03/22 10:17:22 ET