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Toledo (18-15) vs. Ohio University (24-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 8, 9:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Quicken Loans Arena (20,562) -- Cleveland, Ohio. Television: SportsTime Ohio. Home Record: Toledo 10-7, Ohio 16-1. Away Record: Toledo 5-7, Ohio 8-6. Neutral Record: Toledo 3-1, Ohio 0-0. Conference Record: Toledo 7-9, Ohio 11-5. Series Record: Ohio leads 65-54.
GAMES NOTES: After just surviving the second round, the seventh-seeded Toledo Rockets will tangle with the third-seeded Ohio Bobcats in the second quarterfinal of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena.
Going up against 11th-seeded Central Michigan, Toledo just escaped with a win 75-72 to advance into the quarterfinals. The win extends a three game winning streak that stretches into the regular season and is also part of a stretch in which the Rockets have won seven of eight games. The strong finish earned the Rockets the seventh seed as they had a 7-9 mark in league play and after the two tournament wins are now 18-15 overall.
Toledo already has a win against Ohio this season after defeating the Bobcats 77-73 on its home floor in the only meeting in the regular season. Ohio still leads the all-time series 65-54 with wins in seven of the previous eight meetings before this season.
Ohio got the first two rounds off as did all four of the top seeds in the tournament. The Bobcats closed the season strong, winning five of the last six games but were a game back from second-seed Buffalo, which the winner of this matchup will face in the next round. Ohio had a good year overall, finishing at 24-7 and 11-5 in league play.
Toledo led by as many as 15 points in the second half against Central Michigan but let the Chippewas back in the game and led by just one, 68-67, with 41 seconds left on the clock. The Rockets then connected on 7-of-8 free throws in the final 40 seconds and Central Michigan's Austin McBroom missed a three pointer as time expired to give the Rockets a 75-72 win.
Rian Pearson powered the squad to the finish line, continuing to carry his regular season success into the postseason. The sophomore (16.6 ppg 8.3 rpg) finished the season ranked at the top of the conference in scoring and third in rebounding and put together a 20-point, 15-rebound double-double in the win over Central Michigan, including seven offensive rebounds. Julius Brown (12.0 ppg, 4.8 apg) was one of the best freshman in the conference this season and proved it again in the second round, scoring 18 points and showing the poise of a veteran in hitting 5-of-6 free throws in the final minute. Curtis Dennis (11.9 ppg) and Dominique Buckley (10.0 ppg) also add depth in scoring for the Rockets, who as a team average 70.2 points per game.
Ohio faced off with Miami-Ohio in its regular season finale and came out with a 63-54 win on the road over the RedHawks. The Bobcats didn't play well offensively connecting on only 44.2 percent of its shots from the floor including a 2-for-15 performance from beyond the arc but held the RedHawks to even an even worse 40.8 percent including an identical 2-for-15 effort from three point range.
The Bobcats' seeding matched directly with its offensive output this season as they score 70.9 points per game, which trailed only two teams in the MAC. Ohio was also a strong defensive squad holding teams to 62.2 points per game. D.J. Cooper is the focal point of the offense leading the team in scoring (14.1 ppg) and assists (5.6 apg) with his assist tally ranking second in the conference this season. Cooper had a game-high 14 points in the win over Miami-Ohio and also handed out four assists, while collecting five teals as the Bobcats forced 17 turnovers. Walter Offutt (12.1 ppg) joins Cooper in Ohio's solid backcourt, while Ivo Baltic (9.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Reggie Keely (9.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg) lead a weaker unit on the frontline.
With the extra few days off to prepare and the advantage of facing a Toledo squad that exerted more energy than it expected in the second round, Ohio should move on to face Buffalo. Expect Cooper to keep his teams offensive pace up and the defense to stymie Pearson and Co.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ohio 74 Toledo 67
03/08 10:33:41 ET
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