Jeff Boals has already made his first season with Ohio a success.

The Bobcats began the season as the unanimous pick to finish last in the Mid-American Conference in the preseason coaches poll. Ohio had eight freshmen on its roster — now, it’s seven — and Boals was tasked with teaching plenty of lessons to his young players in his first lap as coach of the Bobcats.

A first-round home game for the MAC Tournament seemed far-fetched, but that’s what No. 8 seed Ohio clinched when it came back to defeat Miami in the final minutes Friday of its last regular season game.

The Bobcats have surpassed expectations. They’ll look to keep doing it Monday when return to The Convo to play No. 9 seed Central Michigan, who has just one win in its last 10 games.

“It’s a new season,“ Boals said. “The intensity level ramps up every move you make. Everyone is playing for a championship right now. It’s a one-bid league this year, so why not us?”

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

Game information

Opponent: Central Michigan (14-17, 7-11 MAC)

Game time: 7 p.m. EST

Venue: The Convo (Athens)

Watch: ESPN+/WatchESPN App

Listen: Ohio IMG Sports Network

Meet the opponent 

Starters

14 David DiLeo (6-8, 224)

20 Kevin McKay (6-5, 228)

23 Dallas Morgan (6-2, 202)

05 Rob Montgomery (6-7, 230)

02 Devontae Lane (6-2, 215)

Reserves 

0 Travon Broadway Jr. (6-5, 182)

11 Deschon Winston (6-4, 175)

24 Romelo Burrell (6-7, 181)

Individual Statistical Leaders:

Points: DiLeo (14.7)

Rebonds: McKay (6.3)

Assists: Lane (3.5)

Team Statistical Profile:

Points Per Game: 78.7

Rebounds Per Game: 36.5

Assists Per Game: 11.6

Turnovers Per Game: 13

Field goal Percentage: 43.4%

3-point Percentage: 33.1%

FT Percentage: 74.1%

The series

Ohio is 46-32 all-time in the series versus Central Michigan. The Bobcats defeated the Chippewas 77-69 on Feb. 18 in The Convo.

Key player to watch

DiLeo — The Bobcats limited DiLeo, who is the conference’s all-time 3-point leader, to nine points and one 3-pointer in the their previous meeting. That’s tied for the lowest scoring total DiLeo had against a MAC opponent this year, and Ohio will likely need to do that again if it wants to win.

@anthonyp_2

ap012215@ohio.edu