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University of Akron Zips blog

Another test for hot Zips at Buffalo

By mrasor Published: January 17, 2012

Men's basketball

With their impressive duo of big men, the Buffalo Bulls have done nothing to disprove the notion that they are the best team in the MAC.

They beat Kent State at home and lost by a point at Miami. Ohio beat the Bulls in Athens, but winning at the Convocation Center might be the most difficult task in the conference.

When you talk about Buffalo, you have to talk about Javon McCrea. (Don't you hate how ESPN talking heads always use the "when you talk about..." phrase??)

McCrea is third in the conference in scoring and fifth in rebounding. His 59.6 percent field goal percentage is tops in the MAC. The real test is keeping McCrea away from the offensive glass, where he thrives on crashing the boards.

McCrea gets the publicity, but Mitchell Watt has traditionally been the Bull that Akron needs to ole'. Watt is sixth in the conference in scoring and third in rebounding. Watt is also second in blocks, behind Zeke Marshall.

Point guard Jarod Oldham is second in the conference in my favorite statistic, assist-to-turnover ratio. Keith Dambrot downplayed this statistic with respect to Akron because of the Zips' desire to work the ball into the post. Well, the Bulls share this gameplan but their point guard still averages more assists than anyone in the conference.

Here are two impressive team statistics you should know about the Bulls:

1) Buffalo averages a shooting percentage of 8.1 percent higher than its opponents. Take a moment to digest that -- On a typical night, they are making 8.1 percent more of their shots than you.

2) The Bulls are the nation's No. 4 rebounding team. Their rebounding margin is +8.8 per game.

These stats mean each Zips possession more critical, and it makes each defensive rebound a priority. The stats show a solid interior game, so the Akron quartet of big men will need to be at their best.

Oddsmakers say the Bulls are a two-point favorite to win tonight's game. If the Zips leave Buffalo with a win, Akron becomes the MAC's team to beat.

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