Both the Miami RedHawks and Toledo Rockets are coming off disappointing MAC openers, losing to Bowling Green and Ball State respectively.
Miami was in a tight ballgame at the Stroh Center for the first 30 minutes of play but ultimately couldn’t catch up to BG, who made 24 of 30 free-throws on the night. On the flip side, Ball State started hot and ended hotter. The Cardinals connected on 13 three pointers and shot almost 50 percent from the field to really shock the Conference to rout Toledo 87-69.
Leading the charge for Miami will be senior guards Eric Washington and Geovonie McKnight, who combine for 27 points per game and are also averaging over 30 minutes of play per contest. Junior big man L.J. Livingston is going to need to bring his defensive "A" game as he will be in charge of stopping Toledo center and the MAC’s second leading scorer, Nathan Boothe.
Unfortunately for the RedHawks, they will have to not only handle Boothe on the inside, but will also have to contain Jonathan Williams, the MAC’s leading scorer. Another difficult task Miami is faced with is their offensive inadequacy. They currently rank last in the MAC in points per game (66) and rank 319th out of 351 division 1 teams nationally.
Alternatively, Toledo is tops in the MAC in points per game at 81. As mentioned previously, Boothe and Williams will provide a 1-2 punch for the Toledo offense. As potent as the Rocket offense is capable of being, the defense will have to be much better than it was against Ball State earlier this week. A common theme for Toledo in their five losses this year, their opponent has shot better than 41 percent from beyond the arc in each game compared to the 35 percent their foes connected on in their nine wins.
Miami will have to take note of Ball State’s three point barrage early and often against this weak Toledo defense. Even though Miami only makes around five treys per game, I expect them to make more than that against Toledo. The Rockets must defend better and not turn the ball over to give Miami extra possessions to keep pace. Look for Toledo to switch between man to man and a 2-3 zone intermittently in an attempt to challenge the Miami offense and keep them off balance.
The game can been seen Saturday on ESPN3 at 4pm EST