Athens will play host to dynamic matchup on Tuesday night that pits two teams exceeding the expectations of many. The Bowling Green Falcons (forgive us for using the same trope, we know you've heard it) are doing better than could have been expected in year one under Michael Huger. Losing several high-level talents was supposed to make this a rebuilding year. Don't tell that to the Falcons, who look poised to challenge some conference opponents. Even after a loss to Central Michigan, BG has to like its chances to challenge the Bobcats in Athens on Tuesday.
Looking across to the other bench, Ohio is becoming a group of near prolific scorers. The 'Cats have five guys who are averaging near or above 10 points per game and are getting production from newcomers. These 'Cats fell in their first MAC game against a surging Northern Illinois, but regained their composure with a win at home over another resurgent team in Ball State.
So we figured this warrants some sMAC talk. Ohio student Kaleb Carter and BG alum/fanboy Matt Daley don't mince words here.
Kaleb: Alright there Mr. Daley. I hope you are prepared for the imminent doom that is approaching for your Falcons. BG sure wants to feel good about itself after a good start to the year (despite the fact they haven't beaten hardly anyone worth noting). It's fair to say that your team has gotten a bit too excited about the start. Ohio on the other hand is ready to show what it has. Are y'all even ready?
Matt: Mr. Carter, BGSU beat Dunk City on the road. And we beat Cleveland State, which is a thing. And, uhm, we beat New Orleans, too!
OK, so the Falcons haven't really taken down anyone of note. You have to admit, though, that they have been better than most figured in the preseason. And they should be fine on the road. Their biggest problem, as it normally is with a lot of new pieces and a new coach, is consistency. Hopefully, that CMU game was just a blip on the radar.
Besides, what can Ohio do to stop the multi-dimensional talent that is Zack Denny, who leads BGSU in scoring and rebounding despite being a (very) small guard?
Kaleb: Coming off that CMU game, I'm sure BG fans would love to chalk that up to CMU just getting back on track, right? Well, I have to say, while BG is better than-expected, this team has glaring flaws on both ends of the floor. I was at the Wright State game and I'll say, if the Raiders can exploit the Falcons defensively like that, Coach Huger will have a lot of worrying to do between now and 7:00pm Tuesday (and do I even need to mention the Falcons' game with Detroit)?
Ohio is coming off a good win against Ball State while BG has that loss to a struggling Chips team. You also won't win the effort battle against a team that just outshone Ball State in terms of hustle with a 17-5 margin in favor of the 'Cats on second chance points. Stand Up And Cheer. Bobcats got this on Tuesday night.
As far as defending Denny, I'm none-too worried. I find it unlikley he'll put up more than 30, which is what he'll need if the Falcons are to win this game.
Matt: I'll readily admit that the Falcons have more than their fair share of problems on defense, but I think criticism of the offense is overblown. The key is Denny. When he's on, the offense works. When he's not, yikes. In BGSU's 10 wins, he averages 15.6 per game and the Falcons score 78.4. In the 5 losses, he averages 8.6 and the Falcons score 60.6.
We also have several other guys who can put together good numbers on any given night, from Alcegaire to Worrell and Lillard. Even freshman Demajeo Wiggins (33 points, 25 rebounds in last 4 games) is coming into his own. You might not want to chalk up that win yet, buddy.
Kaleb: I'm not your buddy pal! Anyhoo, I wouldn't put too much confidence in those guys like Alcegaire, Lillard or Wiggins to carry the load should Denny or Parker struggle. In all reality, if Antonio Campbell stays out of foul trouble, he'll be quite the headache for the BG defense. And with Ohio's turnovers down, Jaaron Simmons making better decisions with the basketball (fewer turnovers for him and the team as well the last few times out).
Look for Jordan Dartis to light up your world. Just a hunch.
Matt: And I'm not your pal, guy! My hunch is that Denny busts out for a double-double, Lillard throws down a couple of dunks, and the Falcons win in Athens. As I remember, it would be just like last season!
It may look like Ohio is back, but they're not "back". Not yet, anyway.