A basketball layperson may look at Akron's schedule and think it's a joke.
I mean, where are the North Carolinas, Cincinnatis or Californias?
Look closer and you'll see many of the Zips' opponents are favored to be at the top of their conference.
The Zips' front line will be tested immediately by Rashad Jones-Jennings, an All-Sun Belt First-Teamer and statistically, the nation's best rebounder. Jones-Jennings averaged 12.2 points and 11.3 rebounds per game last season. In one game, the then-junior recorded 30 rebounds, a conference record. At 6-foot-8, he's the tallest player on UALR's roster.
Lekheythan Malone, a sophomore small forward, is the Trojans' second-best player. He was the Sun Belt's freshman of the year after averaging 9.9 points and 3.8 rebounds.
Last season, UALR went 14-15. The team consistently outrebounded its foes. Shooting was the main problem. The Trojans' field goal percentage was 41 percent.
The Trojans have played one game this season. They beat Central Methodist by 29 with strong performances by Jones-Jennings (14 points, 13 rebounds in only 20 minutes) and guard De'Andre Eggins (15 points).
The game starts at 8 p.m. on Monday. A date with Bobby Knight and Texas Tech awaits the winner on Tuesday. ESPN2 will televise that game.
This is part of the College Basketball Experience tournament, which lasts two weeks. The Zips will play in Texas for the first week, then in Kansas City, should they advance. Waiting on the other part of the bracket are Duke, Marquette and Stanford.
Bottom line is, the Zips are looking at a serious RPI boost if they can make a move in the CBE. I have never seen UALR play, but I am very confident that Akron is ready.
My prediction is that Akron's offense will move fluidly for a high amount of assists per field goal. Jones-Jennings will get his double-double, but Jeremiah Wood and Quade Milum should mitigate his presence. Expect some big numbers from Nick Dials and Dru Joyce.
Zips 78, Trojans 69
When Kris Kasparek makes his next reception at the Rubber Bowl, fans should cheer a little louder.
He made perhaps the biggest catch of his career this weekend when his brother Zac Kasperek committed to play at Akron.
This blog has seriously pushed Kris to lobby Zac, an offensive tackle from New Brighton, Pa. I'm sure that had nothing to do with landing the 6-6 300 pounder.
Kasparek had offers from Cincinnati, Toledo, Marshall and Miami (Ohio). Other schools of interest included Penn State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia.