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CONFERENCES COACHING CHANGES TRANSACTIONS GAMING MATCHUP CURRENT ODDS
Eastern Michigan (21-13) vs. Toledo (26-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 14, 9 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Quicken Loans Arena (20,562) -- Cleveland, Ohio. Television: TWSports, ESPN3.com. Home Record: Eastern Michigan 15-3, Toledo 15-0. Away Record: Eastern Michigan 4-10, Toledo 9-5. Neutral Record: Eastern Michigan 2-0, Toledo 2-0. Conference Record: Eastern Michigan 10-8, Toledo 14-4. Series Record: Toledo leads, 49-43.
GAME NOTES: The second semifinal-round contest in the Mid-American Conference Tournament pits the sixth-seeded Eastern Michigan Eagles against the second- seeded Toledo Rockets at Quicken Loans Arena.
The winner advances to Saturday's conference championship game against either Akron or Western Michigan.
Eastern Michigan has had quite the path to get to the MAC semifinal round. The Eagles defeated Central Michigan in the first round, then took down Northern Illinois in the second. On Thursday, Eastern Michigan won against East Division champion Buffalo in an upset, 69-64, to advance to the semifinals.
Toledo began the season 12-0 before back-to-back losses to Kansas and Western Michigan dropped the Rockets from their perfect record. Still, Toledo was able to run through conference play with a 14-4 record, and won the last three games of the season before earning a triple-bye into the MAC semifinal round. The Rockets downed Eastern Michigan, 77-66, in their season finale last Saturday.
Toledo leads the all-time series against Eastern Michigan, 49-43. The Eagles have won six of their last seven games entering this showdown, with the lone loss coming against the Rockets on March 8 in the regular-season finale. The Eagles, though, were one of four conference teams to beat Toledo during the regular season, splitting the series in 2013-14 with the Rockets.
Buffalo held a three-point lead over Eastern Michigan at the half, 32-29, on Thursday night, but the Eagles outscored the Bulls from the free-throw line in the second half, 14-7, and hit 40.7 percent of their field-goal tries to make the comeback run for the win. Karrington Ward led the way for EMU with 19 points in the contest, grabbing seven rebounds as well. Mike Talley was the only other Eagles player to net a double-digit scoring total with 12, hitting 10-of-12 from the free-throw line. Ward contributed to his already team- leading scoring average, boosting it to 12.9 ppg. The big man also leads the team in rebounding with a 6.6 rpg mark. Talley is second on the squad with 10.3 ppg, and Ravel Lee checks in at third with 10.2 ppg.
Toledo got a bit of a scare from Eastern Michigan in Saturday's season-ending win, as the Rockets led by just three points, 35-32. But the home squad came out in the second half and netted 50 percent of its shot attempts from the floor, and was able to add eight points onto the team's lead by the final whistle. Justin Drummond netted 22 points to pace the Rockets, while Rian Pearson contributed a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Julius Brown, who comes into the postseason tournament averaging a team-best 14.8 ppg, scored 13 points against the Eagles, and Jonathan Williams chipped in 12 points in the win. Brown, who dished out seven assists Saturday, tops the squad with 195 helpers on the season. Drummond (14.5 ppg) and Pearson (14.3 ppg) are all solid scorers for the Rockets, and J.D. Weatherspoon (11.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg) is a beast underneath the basket.
The Eagles have an advantage most other teams in the MAC don't - they've already beaten Toledo once this season, so they know the formula. The problem will be Toledo's adaptation, and playing in Ohio will give the Rockets advantage. Toledo's offense will be just too strong for Eastern Michigan, which nets just 66.6 ppg.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 78, Eastern Michigan 68
03/14 10:35:42 ET