After silencing the Ohio Bobcats' roar in a 74-69 win on the 31st of January, Coach Keno Davis and the Central Michigan Chippewas leave the comfy confines of McGuirk Arena to travel to Athens, Ohio.
The Chippewas have been in close games the last two weeks, with all of their games being decided by 10 points or less against the likes of Kent State (L), Ohio (W), Bowling Green (L), and Western Michigan (W).
Ohio has had an average of 31 3-pointers attempted against its defense in its last three games, (a loss to CMU and wins over Akron and EMU), so there's not reason to expect that to change with the trey-happy offense coming into town. Expect the Chips ability (or inability) to make shots from far away a huge factor in this one.
John Simons hit four of his 10 3-pointers against the Bobcats last time, and will likely be looking to make it rain this time around as well. Chris Fowler and Simons combined for 33 as the Bobcats hung around for much of the second half before eventually falling. Ohio will need either Maurice Ndour (who had only four points until late in the game) or Javarez Willis to step up early, because if Ohio doesn't have a lead early, this one is much more likely to turn out in favor of CMU, despite previous history that indicate otherwise. In Ohio's 71-67 win at home against the Chips last season, the 'Cats overcame a 48-30 deficit (it was just one in a string of games where Ohio overcame double-digit deficits). These are two different teams. This Ohio squad is not built for comebacks its new system under Coach Saul Phillips.
Better ball movement will be critical in this one too, as Ohio was not efficient in its offense, assisting on only six of its buckets. Ohio needs a little more of what it has been doing its last couple of games offensively against EMU and Akron, which includes getting to the free throw line, where the team made 36 of 49 over its last two games. Ohio has been below the league average for most of the conference schedule, and this is just another aspect of the game that the 'Cats will have to do well in to prevail against the Chips Tuesday.