Updated Tue, Mar 18, 2014 8:30 pm
Despite falling short of the NCAA Tournament and missing out on an NIT bid, Ohio is still playing in the postseason, as the Bobcats will host Cleveland State in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament Wednesday.
Cleveland State stumbled out of the gate this season, finishing nonconference play with an 8-6 record with losses to Akron, Eastern Michigan and Toledo, all of whom Ohio beat at least once this season. However, the Vikings found their form once they hit the Horizon League portion of their schedule, posting a 21-11 (12-4) record.
Even after losing to Wright State in the Horizon League Tournament semifinal, Cleveland State is a hot team, as the Vikings come into the CIT as winners of 11 of their last 14 contests.
Efficient offensive play was part of the reason for the turnaround, as Cleveland State is a fairly explosive team with four players scoring in double figures. Bryn Forbes leads CSU with 15.4 points per game. Following him are Penn State transfer Trey Lewis with 13.3 points per game and Anton Grady and Jon Harris, who both put up 10.4 points per game.
Cleveland State, who averages nearly 75 points per game, is capable of lighting up its opponent from the outside. The Vikings shoot 40.9 percent from 3-point land, which is good enough for second in the nation. If Ohio can close out on Cleveland State’s shooters and slow down the Vikings offensively, it stands a good chance to win. Ohio, on average, gives up 66.8 points per game, and Cleveland State is only 3-9 when it scores fewer than 70 points.
However, the Bobcats are coming off one of their worst defensive performances of the season. Ohio will have to shore up its defense after surrendering 83 points to Akron in its MAC semifinal loss. The Bobcats also allowed Akron to shoot 60.9 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from 3-point range.
Even though this game is in one of the lesser-known tournaments, it features two of the more successful mid-major programs in recent history. This is the fifth straight postseason tournament appearance for the Bobcats and the fifth postseason tournament appearance in seven seasons for Cleveland State. Ohio went 1-1 in its last CIT appearance in 2011, defeating Marshall in the first round before losing to East Tennessee State in the second round.
Ohio’s potential second round opponent is unknown at this time, as the second round matchups are determined based on traveling distance to minimize the travel costs for the participants.