Miami welcome bitter rivals Ohio on a day in which the university honors Miami and MAC legend Charlie Coles with the retiring of his #10 jersey. The women's game before it will be a "Think Pink" game as the school honors cancer survivors and victims. It will be an all-around emotional day, as the 'Cats and 'Hawks have a lot of pride riding on this game.
Ohio has won its last six games against its voracious foe, though there have been close enough decisions to give fans of both teams anxiety attacks over that period. Miami last beat Ohio in the 2010-2011 season, and did so twice that season.
Last year, the 'Cats grabbed a win in Athens by a score of 82-75, and then made the trip to Oxford at the end of the season and won 82-76 in overtime.
This season, both come in having underwhelmed in MAC play, but both have reasons to lay their hearts out on the floor on Valentine's Day. Ohio is riding a rollercoaster of play, some weeks exhibiting stellar play that many hoped for when the idea of #SaulBall came to town, while other weeks the 'Cats have seemed listless and uninterested like in Tuesday's 62-51 loss to Central Michigan.
Miami has yet to beat a strong MAC squad, with victories over Ball State, Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan, Coach John Cooper's squad will still come into its game at Millet Hall with focus from the tip.
As of late, Ohio has enjoyed success on the court when playing a big lineup. For example, when lineups with the likes of Javarez Willis, Ryan Taylor, Khari Harley, Antonio Campbell and Maurice Ndour, OR Willis, Taylor, Laster, Setty, and Ndour, etc. play, Ohio has, at times, overwhelmed smaller opponents. Against Miami, this could play out one of two ways. Ohio could dominate the inside game, scoring points at will against a dominant and larger Bobcat lineup. In this instance Ohio will control the boards and use its length to fluster the turnover prone Miami guards and young frontcourt. Hell, guard Will Sullivan leads the 'Hawks in rebounds per game with 4.3 per. Sounds reminiscent to the 2012-2013 Bobcats and Ivo Baltic doesn't it? (Not that he's a guard but that no one player will step up to eat glass).
Another way this could go: Ohio comes out flat once more, to the chagrin of Coach Phillips. Eric Washington, Geovonie McKnight and Will Sullivan push the tempo early and get out of the gates fast with a combination of good passing an sharpshooting. The RedHawks turn Ohio over early or towards the end of the first half and swing the momentum in favor of the smaller and at times quicker squad. The 4-guard lineup proves deadly to Ohio's lethargy, and the fans go home happy after two games and thoughts of Charlie Coles in their heads.