KENT STATE (22-8, 12-3 MAC) @ AKRON (22-8, 12-3 MAC)
March 5, 2010 | 8:00 p.m.
James A. Rhodes Arena (5,500) | Akron, Ohio
TV: ESPN2 (Lou Canellis, Mark Adams)
Internet: K-Zone, ESPN360.com
Series: Kent State has won five of the last six meetings and leads the overall series 67-61. This is the ninth time in the last 10 regular season meetings that either Kent State and/or Akron has been in first place in the MAC East.
The MAC is the only conference in the country that will have its top two teams play each other for an outright regular season league title in the final game of the year.
“As someone who has been around the league for 14 years now, to have an 8 p.m. game on ESPN2, that makes Friday a special night for the conference,” said Ford. “You don’t want to make too much out of it to the players because to them it’s just another game. But it really is probably the biggest regular-season game in Mid-American Conference history, at least in the modern era of television and the Internet. There are going to be a lot of people paying attention to this game.”
- Kent State head coach Geno Ford
AKRON Quick Facts
- Playing for its first ever regular season MAC title.
- Has won back to back, seven of its last eight and nine of its last 11 games. The Zips has won seven straight MAC games.
- Is 77-11 in Rhodes Arena under Keith Dambrot, and 38 of their last 43 home MAC games.
- Clinched its fifth straight 20 win season this year.
- Is the only school in the nation with 20 wins to have only one player averaging double figure points or more.
- Have held 11 opponents to 59 points or less, going 11-0 in those games.
- Allowed only one MAC opponent to shoot 50-percent or better this season (KSU 52%).
- Ranked 14th in latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25.
- The Zips use a 10 man rotation with eight players averaging over 16 minutes per game.
- Lead the MAC in scoring margin at +6.4 points per game during all games this season.
KENT STATE Quick Facts
- Won four straight and 12 of their last 13 games.
- Lead the MAC with 683 free throws attempted this season.
- Justin Greene's 137 free throws made this season are tied for seventh most in school history.
- 12-0 when Anthony Simpson scores in double figures.
- Have won 16 straight games this season when scoring at least 30 points in the paint.
- Have five non-conference wins over teams with 20 or more victories this season.
- Non-conference schedule is ranked 26th in the country, going 9-5 in those games.
- Ranked 18th in latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25.
- Kent State is 22-2 when scoring 62 points or more this season.
- Has the 16th most experienced team in the nation according to Statsheet.com.
MAC SEEDINGS ARE ALMOST SET...
1. Kent State/Akron 2. Central Michigan 3. Kent State/Akron 4. Miami/Buffalo 5. Miami/Buffalo 6. Eastern Michigan 7. Western Michigan 8. Ball State 9. Ohio 10. Bowling Green 11. Northern Illinois 12. Toledo
If Kent State wins they get the #1 seed, Akron gets the #3, Miami gets the #4 and Buffalo gets the #5. If Akron wins they get the #1 seed, Kent State gets the #3, Buffalo gets the #4 and Miami gets the #5.
Dave Carducci is talking about the seeds at his blog.
KEYS TO THE GAME FOR KENT STATE
BATTLE OF POINTS IN THE PAINT - Kent State will have to impose their will and win the battle of points in the paint on Friday night. Chris Singletary and Justin Greene need to play patient and poised in the post. Expect Akron to mix up their defensive coverages of the two when they receive the ball in the mid-post/block. The Zips will try to limit Singletary's catches in the mid post, something they failed at back on January 23. Greene will need to play patient and go at Zeke Marshall or whatever Akron big is guarding him. In the first game, the Flashes out scored the Zips 44-36 in the paint. Kent State has out scored their opponents in the paint this season by an average of 30.7-24.9. KSU has won 16 straight games when scoring at least 30 points in the paint. Scoring in the paint has been a strong point of the Flashes for much of the season, and that will have to continue on Friday night at the JAR.
DEFEND THE THREE POINT LINE - Much like in the first matchup, KSU's game plan will be to pressure the ball, close out hard to Akron's shooters and make them become dribble drivers. Akron has a wide variety of guards who are comfortable shooting from long range like Steve McNees, Brett McClanahan and Darryl Roberts. Holding Akron to a bad three point percentage will be key. The Zips shot 4/17 (24%) in the first matchup, with McNees going 1/7. “We can’t allow it to be a free-flowing game where they are getting a lot of open looks from the perimeter because even their post players can step out and shoot it,” Ford told the Record Courier. “We are going to have to pressure the ball relentlessly and not allow them to be comfortable and get good shots.” When Akron plays well, they shoot it well from the perimeter. When they shoot the three well, they play well.
WIN REBOUNDING BATTLE - Kent State needs to try and limit Akron to one shot and on the flip side they will have to come up with double digit offensive rebounds. Offensive rebound is a tool that Kent State has used all season to help them win games. Frank Henry-Ala is usually the main culprit with 48-percent of his rebounds being offensive. In a game as big this, every possession is magnified. It's hard enough to sit down in a stance and guard for 35 seconds, giving up an offensive rebound can be deflating. The Flashes need as many "clean" stops as possible. Offensively, Kent State's perimeter shooting has been sporadic so offensive rebounds has become a big part of what the Flashes rely on. Kent State is 14-2 when they out rebound their opponent. They did so back on January 23, 38-28. That snapped a 13 game streak in which Akron had not lost the rebound battle.