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Toledo (14-13) at Eastern Michigan (14-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 9, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Convocation Center (8,784) -- Ypsilanti, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: Toledo 8-4, EMU 12-4. Away Record: Toledo 5-9, EMU 2-12. Neutral Record: Toledo 1-0, EMU 0-0. Conference Record: Toledo 9-6, EMU 7-8. Series Record: Toledo leads, 47-43.
GAME NOTES: The Toledo Rockets look to claim at least a share of the Mid- American Conference West Division crown as they visit the Convocation Center to tangle with the Eastern Michigan Eagles.
The Rockets snapped a two-game slide on Tuesday with a 70-56 rout of Northern Illinois. Toledo is tied a top the West Division with Western Michigan, as they both own 9-6 marks in league action. Coach Tod Kowalczyk has led the team to its most MAC victories and its first winning record in league action since 2006-07.
Rian Pearson is leading the Rockets and the conference in scoring with 17.9 ppg, while also placing seventh in the league with 6.9 rebounds per outing. Julius Brown adds 12.9 ppg and 5.7 apg to the mix. In the win over NIU, Toledo went the final five minutes without a field goal and scored just three points during that stretch. The Rockets looked strong defensively against NIU, which was missing its leading scorer, holding the Huskies to just 29.8 percent efficiency from the field. Toledo drained 10 3-pointers as Matt Smith led the way to the wire-to-wire victory with 16 points.
Toledo defeated EMU, 60-52, on Feb. 9 in the first bout of the season between these schools. Pearson produced a monster double-double of 29 points and 14 rebounds while Daylen Harrison paced the Eagles with 19 points and 10 boards. The victory improved the Rockets to 47-43 versus EMU in history.
Rob Murphy's Eagles are coming off a 61-59 road loss at Central Michigan that ended a brief-two-game winning streak. EMU will now return for its home and regular-season finale at the Convocation Center, where it owns an impressive 12-4 record. Senior guard Derek Thompson is leading the way offensively, tallying 10.8 points per game on 36.3 percent shooting from the field. Pacing the Eagles in rebounding is junior center Da'Shonte Riley, who is posting 5.8 boards and 2.0 blocks per game.
EMU is leading the MAC in scoring defense with an allowed average of just 59.1 ppg although it allowed CMU to surpass the mark its last time out. The Chippewas went 20-of-47 (42.6 percent) from the field and drained nine shots from 3-point range in the contest while EMU shot 46.3 percent from the floor with six makes from beyond the arc. Thompson led the team with 14 points and Glenn Bryant chipped in 13 to go along with seven rebounds. The Eagles' loss made it very unlikely they will receive a bye in the MAC Tournament, but not impossible. They could still earn a first-round bye with a win and a lot of help.
This should be an even matchup despite the dissimilar playing styles. EMU will try to make every possession important as it thrives in slow-paced contests. The Rockets would rather not grind it out and will try to run and gun to maximize their array of scoring options. This one could easily go either way.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eastern Michigan 64, Toledo 62
03/09 10:38:46 ET
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Jan. 1, 9:00 a.m. (PST)