Podcast: Ohio Set For Eastern Michigan, Belmont

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The Bobcats weren’t anticipating playing Eastern Michigan in February, but the campus closing due to the armed fugitive resulted in the athletic department taking precautionary measures and cancelling the Jan. 30 game.

As a result, Ohio (19-6, 10-1 MAC) prepares for both the Eagles (12-13, 5-6 MAC) and the Belmont Bruins (20-6, 11-2 OVC) this week, with their first game coming Wednesday against Eastern Michigan on Feb. 20.

Since the incident on Ohio University’s campus, the Bobcats and Eagles have had different streaks. Ohio has gone 4-1, with their one loss coming on the road to Akron. In their four-game winning streak, they’re outscoring opponents, 301-243.

Eastern Michigan, on the other hand, has gone 2-3 since the postponement, with their two victories coming to Buffalo and Ball State. They were outscored, 303-297, in all five games and are now 5-6 in the Mid-American Conference.

The Eagles feature two top 25 scorers in the MAC. Their leading scorer and one of the top newcomers to the MAC is Glenn Bryant. The Arkansas transfer is averaging 10.6 points and 4.4 rebounds this season, which are both career-highs from his time with the Razorbacks. In his last four games, the 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 14.3 points.

The other top scorer for the Eagles comes off the bench in Derek Thompson. The senior guard is averaging 10.3 points a game, but has to get back in the groove after missing the game against Akron due to the birth of his child and only playing four minutes against Ball State.

Thompson averages 21.8 minutes a game off the bench and is extremely important to Eastern Michigan’s scoring attack, which ranks 338th in the nation with 57.4 points a game. Northern Illinois is the only other MAC school to rank worse out of the 347 total Division I teams.

Two more players to watch on the Eastern Michigan roster are Daylen Harrision and Jalen Ross, whose dads were both drafted in the NBA in the 1980s. Harrison, a 6-foot-6 forward, is third on the team with 9.4 points per game and second with 4.9 rebounds a game. Ross, who stands at 5-foot-11, is the team’s leading assist man with 2.8 a game and also averages 5.3 points.

The Bobcats will begin to prepare immediately for Belmont following the Eastern Michigan game. Ohio will be traveling down to Nashville, Tn. to battle the Bruins in the featured ESPN BracketBuster game.

Belmont is one of the best Mid-Major teams in the country and will be one of the more difficult matchups for the Bobcats this season. The two should be evenly matched as Belmont was recently ranked 70th in the Basketball Power Index (BPI), while Ohio was ranked 71st.

The Bruins returned their top two scorers in seniors Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson. Clark is having a career year for Belmont, averaging 18.9 points per game, which is 29th in the nation. He’s also ranked 13th in the nation in three-point percentage, hitting nearly half of his attempts with .491. He’s also been extremely accurate from the field, hitting 56.3% of his shots.

Johnson was the team’s leading scorer last season with 13.8 points per game, and he has stayed roughly consistent with 13.5 per game this season. As with any other Belmont player on the roster, Johnson can knock down shots. He has a .454 field goal percentage this season. As a team, the Bruins are eighth in the nation with a .491 field goal percentage.

The Bruins are a high-scoring squad, 18th in the nation with 77.1 points per game, and feature three players averaging 10-plus points. Trevor Noack is third on the team with 12.1 points and first on the team with 5.6 rebounds per game.

Belmont, like the Bobcats, is not a strong rebounding team. They average 32.5 rebounds, which is only 1.3 more than Ohio. Belmont’s lack of length and rebounding will benefit Ohio.

Saturday’s game will be Belmont’s first home game since they defeated Tennessee Tech 74-52 on Feb. 2. They’ll be playing at Eastern Illinois on Wednesday, and they have gone 1-2 in their other road games, with their two losses coming to Murray State (18-7, 9-4 OVC) and Tennessee State (15-11, 9-4 OVC).

The Bruins had all five starters score in double digits against Tennessee State, but only had four points come the bench. They allowed the Tigers to score 80 points, with 74 coming from their starters.

Ohio is 2-0 all-time against Belmont, with their two wins coming within the last six years. In the ESPN BracketBusters, Ohio is 6-3, with wins in their last three appearances. The late night contest will be the final game of the BracketBusters, as ESPN has chosen to discontinue the Mid-Major contest.

The Bobcats will tipoff with Eastern Michigan Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Convocation Center. The first 1,000 fans will receive free DP Dough and flags. The Bobcats will then travel to the Curb Event Center to take on Belmont Saturday at 10 p.m. in the BracketBusters. The game will be broadcasted live on ESPN2.