Robert Morris (25-10) at Toledo (19-16)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 17, 2:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Savage Arena (7,300) -- Toledo, Ohio. Television: None. CIT Record: Robert Morris 1-0, Toledo 1-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Toledo Rockets continue to move forward when they host the Robert Morris Colonials in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament at Savage Arena.
A year ago Toledo finished with a miserable 4-28 overall record and had no chance at the postseason. The Rockets came back this season and with a win in the first round of the CIT improved to 19-16 overall, which is the second biggest win improvement from last season behind only USC-Upstate which has 16 more wins than a year ago. The Rockets lost to eventual champion Ohio in the Mid-Aermican Conference Tournament but even with that loss, the team has won eight of its last 10 games.
Robert Morris is a team with 25 wins this year after downing Indiana State 67-60 in the first round on Tuesday. The Colonials were one of three teams in the Northeast Conference to win at least 25 games this year and fell to one of those other squads and eventual conference tournament champion Long Island to end the Colonials' hopes of an NCAA Tournament berth. Overall the Colonials have won nine of their last 11 games.
This will be the first meeting all-time between these squads, although Robert Morris did pull off a win over a MAC opponent this season by taking down conference champion Ohio in early January.
It wasn't an easy win for Robert Morris in the first round, as the Colonials trailed 36-27 at the half against Indiana State on Wednesday. Robert Morris dug deep and thanks to a 12-0 run midway through the second period, got back into the game, closing with a 6-for-6 effort from the free-throw line in the final minute to seal the win.
In comparison to the rest of the Northeast Conference, Robert Morris was an average offensive team this season averaging 68.6 points per game and shooting 41.8 percent from the floor which were the seventh and 10th best marks in the league respectively. The Colonials' strength on defense (63.7 papg) is what has led to their success this year. Velton Jones (16.3 ppg, 4.5 apg) was really the only dangerous offensive threat this season, but is coming off a seriously weak performance against Indiana State in terms of scoring as he had just 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting. Jones, who led the team in the category this season, did manage to get his teammates involved by handing out eight assists. Coron Williams (10.7 ppg), the second highest scoring on the team, and only other player in double figures led the team in the first round with 11 points while leading rebounder Russell Johnson (8.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg) pulled down 12 boards and was a point short of a double-double.
Toledo had an easier time with its first round opponent, McNeese State, posting a 76-63 win. The Rockets outscored the Cowboys 40-29 in the second frame by sinking a sizzling 77.8 percent of their shots from the floor in the final 20 minutes.
The Rockets were also not an overly impressive offensive team this year, falling to fifth in the 12-team MAC Conference in scoring (70.0 ppg), while creating a scoring differential of just +3.8 by surrendering 66.2 points per game. Rian Pearson is the focal point for the Rockets leading the team in scoring (16.4 ppg) and even though he stands at only 6-4 and is built more like a guard has been able to lead the team on the boards (8.5 rpg) this season both of which are ranked third in the conference this season. Pearson had just another day at the office in first round scoring 17 points, bringing seven rebounds while also doing a bit more in moving the ball by dishing out five assists. Julius Brown posted a double-double in the game for the Rockets, scoring 15 and passing out 11 helpers. Brown (12.0 ppg, 5.0 apg) has been a strong player for the team all season adding scoring as well as the fifth highest assist total in the conference this year. Curtis Dennis (12.8 ppg) is the teams third option but rose to the top of the scoring list on Tuesday with an 18-point effort in the first round.
If the Colonials can get off to a better start they should be able to keep this game tight, but that still might not be enough on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toledo 68, Robert Morris 67
03/17 10:32:54 ET