Ohio College Basketball Insider

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Ohio might bewithout Taylor, Hall

Ohio University coach Jim Christian realizes this is the time of the basketball season when no team is 100 percent healthy. He would just like to be around 85 percent to 90 percent.

Whether the Bobcats (18-7, 8-4) remain in the hunt for one of four byes to the Mid-American Conference tournament depends on how they fare against Western Michigan on Wednesday at the Convocation Center and at Akron on Saturday.

The team might be without point guard Stevie Taylor of Gahanna and senior guard-forward T.J. Hall, both of whom are injured.

At the moment, Ohio shares the No. 4 position with Buffalo, which it defeated 73-70 on Saturday, with six games remaining.

Akron and Toledo, which lead the East and West divisions, respectively, and Western Michigan are at 9-3.

This is the third season in which the top two seeds receive byes into the semifinals of the tournament and the third and fourth seeds get first-round byes.

Teams that don’t get a bye must win four games to win the championship.

“The format has changed since I was coaching at Kent, and it is tough if you don’t get one of the four byes,” Christian said. “There is a big difference from one and two and four and five. It’s a big, big difference. I understand the purpose behind it, but at the same time, if you are outside the top four, it is a tough road.”

The rationale behind the change was to give the strongest teams the easiest road to winning the championship because only the MAC tournament champion, with its automatic bid, has made it to the NCAA tournament since the 1999-2000 season.

The MAC has been a free-for-all.

“No score surprises you,” Christian said.

The Bobcats have been fighters in winning seven times despite trailing by 10 or more points in the second half. But Taylor and Hall are day-to-day because of a bruised calf and sore Achilles tendon, respectively.

Taylor did not play against Buffalo and Hall was limited. Both did not practice yesterday, and Christian wouldn’t speculate about their status for Wednesday’s game.

“The only thing either of them can do to get better is get some rest, but we don’t have much time for that,” Christian said. “We must be careful with them.”

Ohio has done some heavy lifting in remaining a factor in a conference that has been unpredictable. It split games with Toledo and took Akron to overtime before losing. The only lopsided loss was 90-74 at Western Michigan.

Akron still wins without two key players

Akron defeated Northern Illinois 62-54 on Saturday despite not having forward Nick Harney and guard-forward Reggie McAdams.

Harney, a senior from Cleveland, has been suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team by coach Keith Dambrot. He is the team’s third-leading scorer with an 8.9-point average and has started 11 games.

McAdams, a 6-6 sophomore from Elida, is expected to miss several weeks because of mononucleosis. He is averaging 6.3 points and has started 14 games.

Fortunately, the Zips play four of their final six conference games at home. They are at Buffalo on Wednesday.



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