The Ohio Bobcats are set to face in-state rival Cleveland State tonight at 7 p.m. in the opening round of the 2014 CollegeInsider.con Tournament. Through the Vikings may be a fellow Ohio school, the Vikings and Bobcats haven't meet in a long time. It's been 34 years since these schools face off on the hardwood, so it's fair to assume that if you're an Ohio fan you may not be familiar with Cleveland State.
Benjamin Miraski, the Managing Editor of our sister site, Mid-Major Madness (and a former Belter) is. He was kind enough to answer some questions about the Vikings and give Ohio fans the inside scoop on what to expect.
Hustle Belt: Bryn Forbes, Cleveland State's stellar sophomore leads the team in scoring and was named second-team All-Horizon League this season. Just how good is this kid?
Benjamin Miraski: When Cleveland State got torched against Green Bay on a Saturday afternoon, I wrote that the main reason for the loss was the lack of Bryn Forbes in the lineup. Without him, Cleveland State is beatable because they have only two options, one inside and one outside. He is crucial to have because he serves as the go-between for those two (Charlie Lee and Anton Grady). Plus he can shoot and has no problem putting himself on the line for the shot inside.
He is certainly difficult to guard and he is smart with the ball. You need to beware.
HB: Cleveland State doesn't seem to be a great team at anything this season, other than maybe efficiency, what would you say are the Vikings main strengths? Weaknesses?
BM: I think their strength is balance, which they get because of Forbes leading the offense. They don't have to rely on any one trait in order to succeed. They just have the balance to adjust and make the right move on offense.
That said, perhaps their biggest weakness is an over-reliance on the 3-point basket at times, which is a significant amount of their scoring (about 31 percent). But they are really good at shooting them, so that helps to make up for it. You also need to look at their rebounding as a whole. They allow too many long possessions.
HB: The Horizon League seemed to be down this year, and Cleveland State struggled against the top teams such as Green Bay and Wright State, was this season as big of an improvement over last season as the win-loss total makes it seem, or was this more a product of a down season?
BM: Last year was a sort of transitional year, and the Vikings took a big hit when Anton Grady played all of six games. They had lost a good deal of talent from the previous two seasons of 27-9 and 22-11 too. It was just a confluence of events that left them hurting.
I still think if Forbes is healthy for the second game against Green Bay, they compete a little better. And Wright State was just that much better on defense this season.
HB: Maurice Ndour has been dynamic for Ohio partially due to how hard it is for teams to match up with his athleticism. Aside from Forbes, who would you say is that x-factor for Cleveland State?
BM: I definitely think that Ndour is going to be tough on the Vikings. That said, Ohio needs to worry about Charlie Lee.
He is just 5-8, but he is fast and really good at driving with the ball. He shoots 44 percent from 3-point range so you can't ever cheat off him and leave him open. He just does a lot of things really well, which is impressive given that he has to stretch to go on some rides at amusement parks.
Thanks again to Benjamin and MidMajorMadness.com. Check out all their fantastic work here.