Like Hulk Hogan turning heel at Bash at the Beach 1996 (see below), I am going to sit in Kent State's corner today. Here are five reasons why Keith Dambrot's boys will lose the conference championship on their home floor.
1) Athleticism -- The Zips have struggled with more athletic teams. N.C. State, Texas A&M and VCU have beaten Akron this year. In fact, the program has never won against a top-25 opponent. Four Flashes have high-major caliber athleticism: Anthony Simpson, Justin Greene, Chris Singletary and (arguably) Tyree Evans. We saw Greene, Singletary and Evans combine for nine offensive rebounds against Akron on Jan. 23.
2) The first meeting -- Akron crumbled in the second half. Kent State went on a 19-0 run, and the Zips were helpless to stop it. That sort of dominance, regardless of its duration, strongly indicates which team is better.
3) "When they want to" -- Dambrot swears that Kent State is a great team, but only when they want to be, i.e. when they play hard. With the conference title on the line, Kent State will play hard. Count on it.
4) Road warriors -- The Flashes are also a fantastic road team in MAC games. One of their two road conference losses was in overtime at Miami. With six seniors in the rotation, it's clear why they are poised in a hostile environment.
5) They have done it before -- The last time Akron and Kent played at Rhodes Arena to finish the season was two years ago. Al Fisher drained a deep 3 as the clock expired for a Flashes win. Many of the players on today's roster were on that team. They know how to win at Rhodes Arena in the regular season finale.