Then came a 77-69 loss at Central Michigan, followed by Saturday’s 91-85 setback at Eastern Michigan. Suddenly, Toledo is two games back of Cinderella story Ball State.
The Cardinals have won three straight and five of their last six, with three victories coming on the road. The only loss in that span was a 72-69 home setback to the MAC’s hottest team right now – Ohio.
With just four regular season games left on the schedule, Tuesday’s Ball State-Toledo game will be big.
Of course, Akron’s lead in the MAC East has . . .
Kent State would seem to have the tougher test as it faces a Buffalo team that has blown hot and cold. Once on a four-game conference win streak, it dropped three straight – two at home – before defeating Bowling Green (88-74) Saturday.
Ohio gets its turn with the Falcons next. BGSU has lost seven straight and 9-of-10. The Bobcats, meanwhile, have won five straight and 7-of-8.
For its part, Akron will be heavily favored at Miami, where things haven’t been a whole lot better than at Bowling Green. MU has lost three straight, including a 76-64 setback at Ohio Saturday. Miami had four players suspended for that game, including second-leading scorer Geovonie McKnight. That left seven scholarship players and two walk-ons available against rival OU. For being undermanned, they acquitted themselves fairly well, rallying from 23 down to within five points before Ohio closed the door.
Three of those players (all guards) will be back against the Zips, who pummeled Miami 75-46 back on Jan. 23.
In other games:
Northern Illinois at Central Michigan
Like Toledo, both these teams are two games behind Ball State. Each is coming off a loss. For Central Michigan, the 92-85 loss at Western Michigan was the fourth loss in the last five outings – three or which were on the road.
Northern Illinois, meanwhile, broke a five-game win streak with two home court victories (Akron and Bowling Green) before getting nipped by the Cardinals at Ball State Saturday.
Western Michigan at Eastern Michigan
EMU has shown signs of life in recent weeks, winning three of its last four. The only loss was at Ohio (86-64), but the Eagles followed that with an offensive explosion to defeat Toledo, 91-88, in their last outing.
Similarly, Western Michigan has won two of its last three, with the only setback in overtime (85-78) at Kent State. One of the more positive signs for the Broncos is on offense. After losing to Miami (45-44) on Feb. 9, WMU has scored 74, 78, and 92. With Eastern Michigan coming off a big offensive game (91 points), could this be a night that keeps the scoreboard clicking?