2014 CollegeInsider.com Tournament Quarterfinals
Virginia Military Keydets (21-12, 11-5 Big South) vs. Ohio University Bobcats (25-11, 11-7 MAC)
Neither team expected to be here before the season began. Nobody dreams of reaching the CollegeInsider.com Tournament quarterfinals, but now that both Ohio and VMI are here neither team wants to go home. Such is the nature of a third-tier basketball tournament.
When Ohio welcomes the Keydets to the Convocation Center tonight at 7 p.m. for their game they'll have to stop the nation's highest-scoring team, an offensive juggernaut, in order to move on to the semifinals. VMI averages 87.7 points-per-game (first in the country) and does so by often dominating the offensive & defensive glass; the Keydets pull down an average of 42.2 rebounds-per-game. Since the CIT tipped off the Keydets have cranked up the tempo to the tune of an average of 108.5 points-per-game.
Meanwhile the Bobcats run a much slower paced half-court offense that seems to work just fine against most mid-major teams, but VMI is not a normal team. They're lightening quick. Ohio is not. They dominate the glass. Ohio does not.
The closest team in the MAC you can relate VMI to is Toledo, considering both stretch the floor and draw the defense out of its comfort zone with incredible efficiency. But even that's not an accurate comparison. Toledo, which Ohio beat once in overtime and lost by six the second time, doesn't have the post presence this team does.
VMI has three players scoring above 18 points a game. The ultra versatile senior big D.J. Covington leads the team with 19.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. He tends to bring furniture with him when he visits opposing teams, you know to make his paint more comfortable. Guards QJ Peterson and Rodney Glasgow average 19.8 and 18.5 points per game respectively, with Peterson pulling down 5.5 boards and Glasgow dishing out 5.8 assists per game as well.
In order to slow down this offense enough to get a lead and hold it Ohio has to start out the gates hot, something this team is not known for doing often. The "Cardiac 'Cats" may have had success coming from behind several times before, but it's unlikely to work against an team that can get up on you by 20 and never slow down.
The loss of senior center Jon Smith, who unceremoniously quit the team before the CIT, puts the team in an awkward position in terms of defending Covington. Ndour is a logical matchup due to their size and athleticism, but Covington has obviously had little problems beat guys like Ndour all season long. You don't average nearly 20 a game letting 230 pound wings shut you down. This means the team will need another huge performance from freshman forward Antonio Campbell. Campbell showed up big in the round 1 CIT win over Cleveland State and has the bigger body to not get pushed around in the defensive paint. He'll need to turn his defense up a notch in order to slow Covington.
If Ohio's guards, namely Nick Kellogg and Javarez Willis can hold their own offensively and lead a crisp, clean ball-movement focused offense the 'Cats should be able to slow down the Keydets' backcourt. That's all Ohio needs to do here too. Just slow them down enough to get them playing sloppy, then pounce.
If the Bobcats win it will be the first time in program history its won three postseason tournament (not including conference tournaments) games in a single season.
WHEN: Wednesday, March 26, 7 p.m.
WHERE: The Convocation Center, Athens, Ohio
ODDS: Ohio -8
HISTORY: These teams met once before, back in 1972, with Ohio winning that game 98-60