No. 4 seed Toledo (17-12) will begin its journey to claim the 2016 Mid-American Conference Tournament crown Wednesday, March 9, when it battles No. 5 seed Akron (18-12) in Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Tip-off time is slated for approximately 2:30 p.m., and the game can be seen on ESPN3.The Rockets enter the postseason tourney having won eight of their last 11 games to secure a bye to the quarterfinals.
Most recently, Toledo suffered a 68-58 setback to Ball St. March 5 in its regular-season finale before 4,267 fans in Savage Arena.
2015-16 first-team All-MAC selection senior Brenae Harris paced the Rockets with a contest-tying best 22 points on Senior Day against the Cardinals (21-8), followed by honorable mention all-league honoree sophomore Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott with 12 points and a career-tying high eight boards.
UT was limited to 36.4 percent (20 of 55) from the field, including 35.3 percent (6 of 17) from three-point range, and 80.0 percent (12 of 15) from the charity stripe to drop their fifth-straight contest versus Ball State.
The Cardinals won the division showdown on the interior, finishing with a 32-20 edge in points in the paint and a 40-32 advantage on the boards.
For the year, the Rockets are fueled offensively by the trio of All-MAC players Harris, Bravo-Harriott and junior Janice Monakana, who are averaging 14.5, 11.1 and 11.0 points per game, respectively.
UT is 47-15 (.758) against MAC East Division opponents over the last seven-plus seasons under Head Coach Tricia Cullop, including a 5-6 mark (.455) vs. Akron. Thus far in 2015-16, Toledo has tallied a 6-2 ledger (.750) against cross-division foes.
The Zips advanced to the quarterfinal round of the post-season tourney with a 66-54 victory against No. 12 seed Miami at home on Monday. 2015-16 first-team All-MAC honoree Anita Brown paced UA with 29 points, five helpers and five thefts.
Akron, which is 7-8 away from home this season, features three players averaging at least 10.0 points and is led by Brown and Hannah Plybon at 21.6 and 16.4 points per game, respectively.
UT and UA will meet for the second time this year and 52nd time overall. The Rockets dropped an 81-71 decision against the Zips in James A. Rhodes Arena Jan. 20.
Toledo holds a 39-12 advantage in the all-time series, but has lost the last five meetings against its cross-division foe by an average of 14.2 points per game (86.0-71.8) since the 2013-14 campaign.
The cross-division foes also have squared off on five occasions in the MAC Tournament, with Toledo holding a 4-1 (.800) edge in the postseason. Two year ago, the Rockets suffered an 83-69 setback in the third round of the postseason event.
Should the Rockets make it to the semifinals, they would face either No. 1 seed Ohio (24-5) or No. 8 seed Buffalo (17-13) Friday, March 11, at noon. The championship game is scheduled for Saturday, March 12, at 1 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN3.
Toledo owns seven MAC Tournament championships (1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001), second most in league history. BGSU leads the conference with 11 tourney titles (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1994, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011), while Kent State (1998, 2000, 2002) and Central Michigan (1983, 1984, 2013) are tied for third with three MAC Tournament crowns each.