Jim Christian paid the Zips and Rhodes Arena quite a compliment in today's ABJ when he said he hopes playing at Duke, Ohio State and Butler have prepared him for the home-court advantage Akron enjoys.
Tom Gaffney also reiterated my point that Akron needs to keep Kent State shooting jump shots, not driving through the lane.
You can tell me all day about how this rivalry game is rarely a blowout (although I'm not necessarily predicting one). Kent State does two things fairly well: forcing turnovers and slashing to the basket.
Now consider Akron is exceptionally good at stopping penetration and Dru Joyce has held one of the nation's best assist-to-turnover ratios the past couple years.
In short, I really don't see a scenario where this game is that close. Obviously Christian is a good enough coach and his team has enough talent to make it close for awhile, but I see the Zips eventually pulling away.
Prediction: Akron 69, Kent State 57