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OHIO's Charmed Nonconference Season Ends With A Thud

They went on the road and beat the likes of Marshall, Oakland and Northern Iowa. The lone loss was a controversial one at ranked Louisville. 13-1 would've been a great mark to enter MAC play, possibly ranked by next week (they got all the way up to 28th today).

And they still are a good bet to win the MAC East, possibly the tournament. But they're going to have to settle for a 12-2 mark after Robert Morris stormed into Athens and beat them 73-70, even though it looked like neither team really wanted the victory at the end.

And oh, they had their chances. RMU's lead look very certain when it was 70-64 in the final minute, but a made free throw, followed by a dunk off a turnover cut the lead to three. OHIO got the ball back on a full court press turnover, missed two threes, then had to foul RMU in desperation. The Colonials then missed the front-end of a one-and-one, giving OHIO a play with 5.3 seconds out of a timeout. And D.J. Cooper had a swell look from the corner on a three, but it clanged out.

Cooper finished with 13 points and seven assists. Ivo Baltic and Reggie Keely had 14 apiece but Walter Offutt had a very dismal night: six points on 3-of-15 shooting. Cooper also struggled, going 3-of-17 from the field. Overall RMU had a 60.6 eFG%, more than 20 points above OHIO.

Robert Morris as a team was no pushover. They were 10-4 coming into the game and really just had one bad loss (Penn) beat Duquesne and hung tough against Cleveland State. I can't say it's a game OHIO should have won (nobody wins every game) but they were heavily favored to finish with a 13-1 nonconference mark. But they had some major flaws against Kennesaw State which they were able to fix on the fly. It just didn't happen here.

Yes, they're a strong contender for the MAC; this hasn't changed. They might even be the prohibitive favorite. But they do seem to have the makeup of a team that'll go 12-4 or 13-3 in the conference, which may not be good enough for an at-large, because who wants to take a seven-loss MAC team over a .500 Big East team? Well, I do. But I'm not on the selection committee.

So now we get to figure out what type of conference team OHIO is now that they have games which "matter." Their first game is Saturday at 6 p.m. at Bowling Green on SportsTime Ohio.