The two hottest teams in the MAC will meet tomorrow 7 p.m. at Rhodes Arena.
Akron (7-5 MAC) has won five straight. Before losing its BracketBuster by one point, Miami (9-3) had won five straight.
This isn't the normal flock of RedHawks, the captain of which, Charlie Coles, loves the slow-it-down and keep-it-close style. Rather, Miami has scored more than all but one team during MAC play and has allowed the third-most points.
In fact, the RedHawks are last in steals and turnover margin. But they are tops in rebounding margin, led by Julian Mavunga, who is crashing the offensive glass and has one of the funnest names in the conference to pronounce (mah-VUHNG-uh). He and Nick Winbush are carrying the team. In fact, they are Nos. 1 and 2 in minutes played during conference games.
When the teams met in Oxford, the Zips were cold on 3s and Miami shot twice as many free throws in an 84-76 RedHawks victory. Mavunga dropped 25 points on Akron, and Winbush added 12 boards.
A win would mean a lot to both teams as they position for the MAC Tournament. Akron is trying to separate from the five teams tied with 7-5 records. Going to 8-5 would at least assure the Zips of a home game in the first round. Miami, meanwhile, has a good chance to take over first place by itself. Currently, the RedHawks are tied with Kent State, who will battle Buffalo on Thursday at the M.A.C. Center.
I was a little surprised to see Akron is an 8.5-point favorite to win. What do you think?