In the span of a few days, the Bobcats saw a game postponed, had another game moved up to make up for it and now are back to trying to figure out the next step.
On Friday, the Mid-American Conference announced that Ohio’s game at Bowling Green – set for Saturday at 5 p.m. – had been postponed “due to roster issues with the Ohio University men’s basketball team related to positive COVID-19 tests and subsequent contact tracing.”
Saturday’s game, in itself, was an attempt to cover a gap in the schedule caused due to COVID-19 issues at Eastern Michigan. The Eagles were originally supposed to play at Ohio on Saturday, but that game was postponed. With BG also facing an open Saturday, the MAC instead moved up the OU-BG clash on Feb. 20 two weeks in an order to get a game played.
It didn’t work out.
Ohio (11-6, 7-4 MAC) won’t appreciate the pause, where the Falcons may view the gap as a potential blessing. The Bobcats have won four games in a row while Bowling Green (10-8, 6-6) has dropped five straight, including a loss to last-place Western Michigan on Tuesday.
The postponement is the first this season to be laid at the feet of the Ohio program, which has seen games with visiting EMU, and at both Miami and Northern Illinois, postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the opponent’s programs.
Ohio’s contact tracing rules dictate those caught up in the protocol must sit for 14 days. For instance, junior center Rifen Miguel has not appeared on the floor with the Bobcats since a Jan. 16 home game against Kent State. Head coach Jeff Boals subsequently confirmed Miguel had been out of action due to contact tracing.
Miguel is believed to be the only Ohio player, thus far, to miss time this season due to COVID-19 issues.
And if Ohio was forced to postpone Saturday’s game due to roster issues related to contact tracing, it stands to reason more games could be impacted due to the university’s COVID-19 protocol. The Bobcats are currently scheduled to host Akron on Tuesday, Feb. 9, and are set to travel to Western Michigan on Saturday, Feb. 13.
Nine players appeared for the Bobcats in Tuesday’s road win at Central Michigan.
With a month left until the MAC Tournament, set for a March 11 start in Cleveland, Ohio still needs to find a way to play nine more conference games. Currently, OU has open dates on Tuesday, Feb. 23, and the weekend of March 5-6.