It is not the glorious stage that the Ohio Bobcats wanted, but the 'Cats are making their fifth straight season with a postseason appearance when they welcome Cleveland State to the Convocation Center for a first round CollegeInsider.com Tournament showdown.
Wednesday will be the scene for at least one last home game for the Bobcat seniors, who have played their last two games at home not knowing for sure if it would be in fact their last game in Athens.
Now the 23-11 'Cats play host to the 21-11 Vikings who finished second in the Horizon League in the regular season with a 12-4 conference record.
Sophomore guard Bryn Forbes earned second-team all-league honors in the Horizon. Forbes hit a Vikings' single season record 77 3-pointers this season while averaging 15.7 points a game. The 6"3 175 lb. guard posted at least 20 points in 10 games in the 2013-2014 season.
Horizon League Sixth Man of The Year Jon Harris will be the big man Ohio has to match up with. Harris is a 6"7 senior forward who has averaged 10.4 points a game and 6.0 rebounds per game.
Cleveland State Head Coach Gary Waters is in his eight year with the program and has coached the team to five 20-win seasons, including this year.
Ohio and CSU had three of the same regular season opponents in the 2013-2014 season that could be used to compare the two teams.
The Vikings lost at home to the Akron Zips on Dec. 7, 73-61. Ohio lost two of three games with the Zips, and could potentially play the Zips again with a win. The Bobcats defeated Valparaiso at home on Nov. 17 by a score of 76-72. The Vikings had success against Valpo as well, winning both of their contests by a combined margin of 30. Finally, both programs faced off against Oakland University, with the Vikings getting the better of the Golden Grizzlies in both of their games. Ohio fell to Oakland on the road in an abysmal effort on Dec. 7th, 73-56.
On the plus side for Ohio, the Bobcats have seen the rise of athletes like Javarez "Bean" Willis and Antonio Campbell over the last several games, and senior Travis Wilkins stepped up big in conference play. Campbell has averaged 8.4 points a game over his last five games while filling minutes previously occupied by Maurice Ndour and Jon Smith. Ndour has battled a bad back and has had his minutes limited as the end of the season neared and Campbell proved at times to be a more capable low-post scorer than Smith who is more defensively-focused.
Willis has stepped up his scoring while picking up minutes at point guard as the fiery Stevie Taylor has battled through a leg injury. Willis is averaging 14.4 points a game in his last five outings. Wilkins averaged 9.2 points per contest in MAC play.
The key to victory for Ohio will be shutting down the guard play of the Vikings, as Forbes and Trey Lewis make a formidable duo that are capable of scoring in bunches.
For the Vikings, they will likely throw a few zone defense sets at the Bobcats, something Ohio has struggled with this season, and will have to shut down Nick Kellogg, who nears the end of a fantastic career in Athens as the MAC's all-time leading 3-point shooter.
The game is set to tip-off at 7 p.m. in Athens at the Convocation Center.