Updated Sat, Dec 10, 2011 2:33 pm
Ohio looks to complete the two-game sweep on its longest road trip (in terms of number of days) of the season, when the Bobcats play Portland tonight.
The 'Cats won the first game of this road trip on Wednesday at Oakland University's O'rena, a venue at which the Golden Grizzlies had won 41 of their last 43 games, including a win over the Tennessee Volunteers on November 28. Long story short, you don't just walk into Rochester, Mich. and beat the Grizz'.
"The biggest thing for me," Ohio head coach John Groce said after Wednesday's game. "People that don't follow college basketball have no idea how good (Oakland) is and how hard it is to win in here."
But people that do follow college basketball know how good a "W" over Oakland looks on the schedule. Ohio's RPI, according to realtimerpi.com, is 22nd-best in the country with a strength of schedule that ranks 75th. The Bobcats are 3-1 against teams with RPI's inside the top 100: Louisville 12, Lamar 62, Marshall 74, and Oakland 99.
Tonight the green-and-white goes for its fourth straight win against the Portland Pilots (RPI 122). The Pilots are 3-6 on the season with wins over Florida Atlantic, Georgia State, and Lewis & Clark College, and losses to Washington, Washington State, UC Santa Barbara, Kentucky, Saint Louis and Boise State. Although the record might not be impressive, Ohio's Director of Basketball of Operations Aaron Fuss warned fans on Twitter not to let their guard down.
"Don't let Portland's record deceive you...7 of their 9 games have been against top 100 teams." Fuss tweeted. "Going to be a battle!"
To further Fuss' point, The Pilots' strength of schedule is ranked 26th.
The University of Portland was picked to finish seventh in the West Coast Conference's preseason poll. Three players average double figures for the Pilots: Ryan Nicholas - 11, Tim Douglas - 10.3, Nemanja Mitrovic - 10.
Match-up to Watch: Ryan Nicholas is a 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward and the team's leading scorer. Oakland's Corey Petros (6'10" 235 pounds) lit up the Bobcats on Wednesday for 23 points.
"We had no answer for him," Groce said of the redshirt freshman after Wednesday night's win.
But Ohio keyed in on the Grizzlies' guards Reggie Hamilton and Travis Bader, who Groce called some of the top guards in the country, leaving Petros singled up down low. No slight to Portland, but if Oakland has some of the top guards in the nation, Ohio should not be as focused on the Pilot's guards as it was with with Bader and Hamilton, which will allow the 'Cats to double the post.
The Pilots (3-6) and Bobcats (6-1) tip off at 7 p.m. PST, that's 10 p.m. here in the East. Ohio is off to it's best start under John Groce and the best beginning in program history since 2005, when the 'Cats began the year 13-3.