Akron slapped around the 5-foot-8 guards with ease.
Now it matters.
The Zips travel to Dayton for what will be one of their toughest games this season. The Flyers are the defending NIT champions and are one of the teams "receiving votes" in the Coaches Poll (albeit only 1 vote).
Many players on the Dayton roster will be familiar faces for the Zips coaching staff, as Akron also recruited many of them.
The Flyers are quite talented in the frontcourt. Zeke Marshall must put his body into 6-foot-10 Devin Searcy on the boards. It will likely Nik Cvetinovic's duty to keep up with the athletic Chris Wright.
I haven't seen enough of this team in competitive situations to know if the Zips can keep up, but Dayton likely has the same uncertainty.
If the past is any indication, it will be a thrilling game. Who can forget the double-overtime nailbiter three years ago?
Oddsmakers don't think so. Dayton is a 12.5-point favorite.
The Zips (maybe I should use a lowercase "z" so you don't confuse them with the basketball team) gave us just enough time to almost forget this season was still going on.
Oh, but it is! In fact, there are two more games.
Miami will enter Wednesday's contest with a serious incentive to win. At 6-4, the RedHawks' bowl hopes rely on a win. They don't want to be heading into Week 12 against Temple, needing a win. With a 5-1 MAC record, a trip to Detroit is likely by winning out.
The RedHawks' success is somewhat mysterious. Over the course of the season, they have averaged almost seven points fewer than they have given up. Miami rushes for only 72.1 yards per game (hint: that's pathetic). The team needed a last-minute field goal to beat a bad Bowling Green team last week. (If you missed it, the weather was very foggy.)
The RedHawks' defensive statistics aren't anything to gasp at, either. But I'll give them this, they hunker in on third down and they're stingy in the redzone. Really, that's the key to football: executing at opportune times.
Zac Dysert is a decent quarterback. If this was a 3-3 Miami team, no one would give him much thought. But the RedHawks' achievements have exceeded their talent level, and he should get some credit for that. Like Western Michigan, Miami also has two of the league's most productive receivers. Armand Robinson and Nick Harwell are sixth and eighth in the MAC in receptions and yards per game.
All in all, I think the Zips have a great chance to break their oh-fer season, despite being 10.5-point underdogs.
As you know by now, Akron received a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
To refresh your memory, the top four are the ones to which you aspire. The Zips won't play another game this year that isn't at Lee Jackson Field or in Santa Barbara, Calif., for the College Cup.
The Zips have a first-round bye and will open the postseason on Sunday against the winner of Xavier and West Virginia.
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