After the chaotic first week that was conference basketball in the Mid-American, not many teams sit in more of a rut than Ohio. Toledo was just as much a victim of the chaos as any, as the Rockets fell to Central Michigan last Wednesday in a game that went to its final seconds.
A week removed from being named MAC West POTW, J.D. Weatherspoon and the Rockets look to recover on the road against an Ohio team that has visibly struggled this year and looked listless for much of the Bowling Green game. Ohio, at 3-3 in the Convocation Center, will need the support of 'Cats fans and a returned student population to feed them energy throughout this one, and yes, this really is one of those times where the home team will undoubtedly benefit from the presence of the home crowd.
Coach Todd Kowalcyzk's team is coming off an excellent 85-67 victory. Questions arose after the conference-opening loss to CMU, but the response on Saturday was what Toledo needed to show that they are very much so the team to beat before everyone heads to Cleveland at the end of the regular season.
Toledo, who challenged itself in the nonconference slate of games, is 3-4 in true road games. Last year's Toledo/Ohio epic in the Convocation Center will go down as one of the best games in Athens in years, and this one would be hard-pressed to come near the level of insanity that last season's game reached.
The Rocketeers of Toledoville feature four guys who are scoring in double figures this season, with Juice Brown putting up 14.9 points a game while adding 4.5 assist a game to lead them.
Let's think back for a minute to last year's game. Maurice Ndour scored a career-high 28 points for Ohio. Stevie Taylor, who has trudged through extreme struggles this season, put up 23 points on that night. The now-departed Nick Kellogg hit five 3-pointers
Juice Brown was Juice Brown, netting clutch buckets and scored 28 to keep Toledo in the mix of things before Ohio pulled it out in overtime.
In that postgame presser, the now-former Ohio coach Jim Christian, stated:
"In my 25 years of doing this, this was probably the most fun I've had at a basketball game."
But that was just the game in Athens. Toledo won the next game in Toledo less than two weeks later, 82-76. Gosh, let's hope this game comes somewhere near what last year's games were.