CLEVELAND -- How hard is it to beat a division rival three times in one season? UB and Kent St. hope it's as hard as people tend to make it out to be.
Both the Bulls and the Golden Flashes will be out to reverse their regular-season fortunes in Friday night's MAC semifinals. Second-seeded UB will face No. 3 Ohio, a 65-57 winner over Toledo in Thursday night's late quarterfinal at The Q. The Bobcats beat the Bulls 60-52 in Athens on Jan. 11 and 88-77 in Alumni Arena on Feb. 22. In fact, Ohio is the only MAC team UB has not beaten this year.
No. 4 Kent State a 76-72 winner over Western Michigan, gets Akron in the 7 p.m. opener of the semifinal twinbill. Akron won both regular-season games, coming from nine down at Kent in the season finale to lock up the East Division and overall crown.
Why does Ohio trouble UB so much? The Bobcats have the league's best point guard in junior D.J Cooper and, when on, sucker opponents into bad passes with stealth weakside help defense. UB turned it over 23 times at Ohio and 14 times on their home floor.
Obviously the Bulls can't be that sloppy again and expect to advance. There will be a heavy burden on Jarod Oldham, UB's sophomore point guard. Oldham had an assist-to-turnover ratio of better than 2-1 on the season but had nine assists against eight turnovers vs. the Bobcats. But sharp post passing will be vital as well. UB needs to cherish its possessions and force Ohio to operate its halfcourt offense instead of feeding on transition baskets.
-- Bob DiCesare
taggedCollege basketball | Mid-American Conference | NCAA Tournament