No. 4 seed Toledo (20-12, 11-7 Mid-American Conference) will continue its journey to claim the 2015 MAC Tournament crown when it takes on No. 1 seed Central Michigan (22-7, 12-6 MAC) Friday, March 13, at 6:30 p.m. in the semifinal round at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.Tonight’s contest can be seen nationally on ESPN3, in addition to BCSN in the Toledo area.
The Rockets are appearing in their second consecutive league semifinals (and 15th in program history) and will look to advance to the MAC Championship Game for a second-straight season. UT dropped a 98-77 decision to Western Michigan in the finals last year.
The winner of tonight’s contest will meet either No. 2 seed Buffalo (21-9, 12-6 MAC) or No. 7 seed Akron (21-13, 9-9 MAC) Saturday, March 14, at 7:30 p.m. Toledo posted a 92-88 road win over the Bulls Feb. 10 and swept the season series vs. the Zips with 85-69 (Jan. 9) and 68-66 (Feb. 18) triumphs.
UT advanced to the semifinals with last night’s 78-67 triumph over Eastern Michigan. Junior Nathan Boothe (career-high 20 points, 9 rebounds) and senior J.D. Weatherspoon (13 points, career-best 15 rebounds) dominated the paint en route to a 44-33 rebounding advantage. Weatherspoon’s 15 boards matched Boothe for the most rebounds by a Rocket in a game this season.
Senior Julius Brown also played a pivotal role for Toledo, tallying 17 points and tying his season high with eight assists and committing just one turnover in 34 minutes. Also scoring in double figures was senior Justin Drummond with 11 points and five rebounds.
Toledo limited Eastern Michigan to a 37.5 field-goal percentage, including an 8 of 28 showing from behind the three-point arc. The Rockets shot 48.3 percent from the field and were 17 of 23 (73.9) at the free-throw line.
Brown leads UT with 16.4 points per game (third in MAC), a 41.6 three-point field-goal percentage (seventh in MAC), 4.4 assists per game (fourth in MAC) and 1.0 steals per game. Also scoring in double figures for UT are senior guard Justin Drummond (13.0), senior forward J.D. Weatherspoon (12.8), sophomore guard Jonathan Williams (10.3) and junior center Nathan Boothe (10.0).
Brown earned first-team All-MAC honors for a second straight season earlier this week and was joined on the all-league squad by Drummond (third team), Weatherspoon (third team) and Boothe (honorable mention). Four Rockets also were named to the all-league squad last year.
Central Michigan has been idle since a 74-62 setback at Western Michigan last Friday. The Chippewas clinched a share of the MAC regular-season title March 3 with an 85-77 home win over the Rockets.
A first-team All-MAC selection, junior guard Chris Fowler directs the Chippewa attack and has a team-high 15.3 points per game and a league-high 6.0 assists per game.
The Rockets lead their all-time series vs. CMU, 58-34, and are unbeaten in four MAC Tournament meetings vs. the Chippewas.
The last time the division rivals squared off in the postseason was in 2012 with the Rockets capturing a 75-72 second-round at Quicken Loans Arena.