Ohio is playing their best basketball right now. In the regular season they lost to Kent State by 10, lost to Toledo by 17, beat Buffalo by 1, and lost later in the season by an even 20 points.
That was their path to the NCAA tournament and the Bobcats won each game convincingly. They led each game from start to finish. I present to you, the Ohio Bobcat revenge tour.
Jason Preston paired up with a different player in each game to create problems for the defenses. Preston scored 19 against Kent State while Lunden McDay scored 18 on their way to a 22 point win.
Preston scored 27 points in the 7 point win over Toledo. He was helped by Ben Vander Plas, Vander Plas scored 26. Ben Roderick scored 20, Dwight Wilson III scored 17, and Preston scored 22 in the 15 point championship game win.
Ohio’s strength is their offense. It’s powered by Jason Preston but anyone else can step up on any night.
The good news about being matched up with Virginia in the opening round is they play literally the slowest game in the nation. In a 40 minute game, they play the least amount of basketball. Ohio has to win the least amount of basketball to pull the upset.
The bad news is that Virginia is very, very good. They only take good shots, using as much time as they need to find it, and smother teams on defense.
According to Kenpom, the committee got the first and second seeds correct. Loyola Chicago and Wisconsin are next for reasons I’m not smart enough to explain, then Virginia. Higher than any three seed or any other four seed. Ohio is the unluckiest 13 seed. Ohio is the team to pay for the committee’s mistake.
The Bobcats path to a win is going to be similar to the upset the San Francisco Dons pulled in November. Shoot the lights out from deep and somehow keep Virginia from making their own threes. It’s a tall task but it has happened to the Cavaliers a couple times this year.
On the other hand, Virginia hasn’t lost to a clearly inferior opponent in the opening round of the tournament before, right?
The MAC got two teams into the 2021 NIT field, Toledo and Buffalo. The NIT can get a wide range of teams in it, but these are very even matchups for the MAC teams involved.
The Rockets are a three seed up against Richmond in the opening round. Toledo is led by their offense, as all MAC teams are in all sports it seems.
Marreon Jackson averages 18 points per game for Toledo, but 4 other players average double digits and three shoot over 40% from behind the three point line.
Toledo can struggle on defense more than Richmond has this season. Richmond is a bit more balanced than Toledo, their defense is top 100 according to Kenpom.
Richmond on offense wants to get inside and shoot high percentage shots. Toledo wants to shoot from the outside.
Buffalo lines up against Colorado State and there’s not much that separates these teams.
The biggest separator is tempo. Buffalo wants to run and play a lot of basketball. Colorado State isn’t a slow down team, but Buffalo is top 15 in tempo.
After that, both teams play strong defense and have played very even schedules, as well as that can be measured.
Buffalo is lead in scoring by their big men Jeenathan Williams and Josh Mballa. Colorado State leans on David Roddy to do their scoring. He’s only 6’5” (says the 5’7” writer) but also handles the rebounding for the Buffaloes. He averages 9.5 per game.
If you like watching a close game with big players get physical down low, and who doesn’t, this game might be for you.
If a MAC school gets a chance to play in the postseason, they take it. Not everyone plays major basketball and missing the dance is embarrassing.
I’m not knocking the College Basketball Invitational, but Bowling Green draws Stetson in their opening game. Stetson has a losing record overall and in conference.
Bowling Green hasn’t exactly blown the doors off of the MAC either but they are in the top half of college basketball according to Kenpom. Stetson clocks in at 248.
I hope that Bowling Green can turn their better performance against a better schedule into an opening round win in the CBI.
Bowling Green should make a deep run into this three day tournament. Pepperdine had a 12-12 season in a much tougher conference. They would be a tough matchup for the Falcons. They also cannot play each other until the final.
And hey, it’s basketball. Anyone can get hot and anyone can pull one upset.