Toledo (24-5) at Central Michigan (10-18)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, March 4, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: McGuirk Arena (5,300) -- Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: Toledo 14-0, Central Michigan 8-6. Away Record: Toledo 8-5, Central Michigan 2-12. Neutral Record: Toledo 2-0, Central Michigan 0-0. Conference Record: Toledo 12-4, Central Michigan 3-13. Series Record: Toledo leads, 58-32.
GAME NOTES: With two games left on the regular season schedule, the Toledo Rockets will be battling it out with the Western Michigan Broncos for the top spot in the Mid-American Conference West Division. The first of the Rockets' final two home games is a road trip to face the Central Michigan Chippewas in conference play at McGuirk Arena.
Toledo needed overtime in its last contest, but came away with a huge win over Western Michigan, 96-85, to even the two teams' conference records at 12-4. Toledo has won three of its last four games, and is in a tie for first place in the MAC West.
Central Michigan, however, has experienced the opposite in terms of success. The Chippewas have lost two straight games, including a tight 74-71 defeat at Ball State Saturday. CMU is 3-13 in the conference standings.
Toledo has a firm grip on the all-time series with Central Michigan, 58-32. The Rockets took down the Chippewas back on Jan. 11 of this season with ease, 86-71.
Toledo found itself down to Western Michigan in the final minutes of regulation by 12 points, but a loss would have sealed up the top overall seed in the MAC West Division for the Broncos. The Rockets then rallied from 12 down to tie the score at the end of regulation, and proceeded to dominate the extra period by outscoring WMU, 19-8, for the win. Justin Drummond led Toledo with 28 points in the contest, adding eight rebounds and four assists. Julius Brown tallied a double-double with 18 points and 10 assists, while J.D. Weatherspoon scored 14 points with seven rebounds. Nathan Boothe added 13 points and eight boards, and Rian Pearson rounded out the double-digit scorers for the Rockets with 11 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Brown leads the team in scoring this season with a 15 ppg average, adding an impressive 184 total assists on the year to his stat line. Pearson, who held the distinction of the team's top scorer for the early part of the season, checks in at 14.4 ppg with a team-high 49 steals. Drummond adds 14.3 ppg, and Weatherspoon notches 11.3 ppg with a team-best 6.8 rpg average. The Rockets as a unit are scoring 81 ppg and giving up 74 ppg to their opponents.
Ball State held just a one-point lead over Central Michigan when the buzzer sounded at the end of the first half. The second period was a back-and-forth battle between the two sides, but the Cardinals came out with a two-point second-half advantage that handed them a three-point win. Chris Fowler tallied a game-high 26 points in the loss, adding nine assists, five rebounds and two steals. Braylon Rayson chipped in 11 points before fouling out of the contest. CMU shot 42.9 percent from the floor in the loss.
Fowler has proven to be a bright spot on the Chippewas' roster this season, leading the team with a 17.9 ppg average on 51.1 percent shooting from the floor. His 150 assists are a team best, and his 54 steals also tops the squad. Rayson and John Simons each are scoring 10.6 ppg this season, while Simons adds a team-high 5.6 rpg average to his stat line. Blake Hibbitts (9.2 ppg) has recorded 10 blocked shots this season.
With two games left down the stretch, and Toledo and Western Michigan in a sprint to the finish, the Rockets should be heading into Mount Pleasant with guns blazing, ready to take down the Chippewas.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 79, Central Michigan 64
03/04 10:35:55 ET