Are you ready for three months of twice-weekly wild showdowns?
I certainly am.
For Akron, it starts tonight at Miami, against double-double juggernaut Julian Mavunga.
The Zips are as hot as any MAC team right now. I would credit those four consecutive home cupcakes. This schedule exposed a lot of the Zips' weaknesses early, and it permitted them to correct them in live games that were guaranteed wins.
Miami, meanwhile, played a lot of odds-against-them games, but perhaps not as many impossible games as usual.
The key tonight is finding Mavunga's whereabouts when the ball is hoisted toward the rim, and having a Zips post player putting his keister squarely into Mavunga's hip. Outside of the potential MAC Player of the Year, the RedHawks are a subpar rebounding team. Teams are able to keep him off the offensive glass if they concentrate on it.
It's also important to clamp down on Miami on the perimeter, because the RedHawks shoot a lot of 3s, but aren't great at making them.
I envision the Zips having numerous opportunities for offensive rebounds. Put-back points could be the difference in the game.
Akron is favored by three. I'd still take the Zips.